The U.S.-led coalition denied responsibility for an overnight airstrike in Eastern Syria that killed 52 pro-Assad fighters. The strike was directed at fighters in the town of Al-Hari near the Iraq-Syria border, reports AFP.
The UK-based The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights first alerted news outlets of the strike, placing the death toll at 52, making it one of the deadliest bombings in Syria this year. The deceased fighters were nationals of several countries, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan.
SANA, the Syrian government-controlled state media outlet was quick to blame the United States and its coalition partners. In an article, SANA claims that a Syrian “military source said in a statement to SANA that the US-led coalition on Sunday targeted one of our military positions in the town of Al-Hiri, southeast of al-Boukamal city, leaving a number of martyrs and wounding other people.”
The United States denies any involvement in the strike, saying that the U.S. and the coalition are focused on defeating ISIS, not pro-Assad militants.
The coalition “did NOT conduct strikes near Abu Kamal west of the Euphrates,” tweeted Army Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve.
— OIR Spokesman (@OIRSpox) June 18, 2018
In the past 72 hours, U.S.-backed units such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have pushed ISIS out of Dashiha, an important logistical hub that had been controlled by ISIS forces for some time.
News from east #Syria: for the first time in four years, #Dashiha, a notorious transit town for weapons, fighters, and suicide bombers between #Iraq & Syria, is no longer controlled by #ISIS terrorists. Significant progress by #SDF over the last 72 hours. More to come …
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) June 17, 2018
Israel has also denied any responsibility for the airstrikes. “We do not comment on foreign reports,” said an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman while speaking to Reuters. Israel has conducted strikes inside Syria targeting foreign-backed fighters in the past.