A international war monitor said Saturday that Syrian Democratic Forces repelled an Islamic State assault on a coalition base in eastern Syria, a claim that a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition disputed.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that SDF responded to an attack by at least 20 ISIS fighters on the international base at al-Omar oilfield, which is home to American and French troops.
A spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS, disputed the Syrian Observatory’s report, saying there “was no coalition involvement” in an alleged attack.
“CJTF-OIR can confirm that there was no Coalition Force involvement with this alleged incident,” U.S. Army Col. Sean Ryan told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Saturday. “CJTF-OIR has no information that confirms an attack took place on the Omar oil field overnight.”
The Observatory’s report of the alleged ISIS assault, which began late Friday and continued into the early morning hours on Saturday, was reportedly aimed at the housing area for members of the international anti-ISIS coalition.
“The attack targeted the oil field’s housing, where US-led coalition forces and leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces are present,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said, according to Agence France Presse.
At least seven ISIS jihadis were killed in the attack, the Syrian Observatory said. The coalition base was reportedly put on “high alert” as SDF and international forces swept the area in search of “infiltrators” who might be hiding in the aftermath of the firefight.
SDF fighters captured al-Omar, Syria’s largest oilfield, in October as part of a coalition offensive in the former ISIS stronghold of Deir Ezzor province. The area has since been converted to a base that contains about 500 SDF members and international coalition troops, according to the Syrian Observatory.
Beginning in 2014, ISIS exploited the chaos caused by the Syrian civil war and overran large swaths of southern and eastern Syria, claiming the territory as part of is “caliphate.” Although the U.S.-led coalition has managed to recapture most of that territory, ISIS still retains pockets of control in Deir Ezzor and the desert borderlands near Iraq. (RELATED: UN Report: There Are Still Up To 30,000 ISIS Fighters Scattered Across Iraq And Syria)
As ISIS has lost nearly all of its territory, it has typically resorted to guerrilla-style attacks and suicide bombings on soft targets. In late July, the group launched a series of coordinated suicide attacks across southern Syria, killing at least 150 civilians in a single day. (RELATED: ISIS Kills Hundreds In Syria Bombing Spree)
Reports of an attack on the coalition base come as President Donald Trump is seeking to limit the U.S. role in Syria’s postwar reconstruction. The Trump administration said Thursday that it intends to cancel roughly $200 million in Syria “stabilization” funding that had been set aside earlier this year.
Trump has repeatedly signaled a desire to withdraw the 2,000 U.S. troops deployed to Syria as soon as the mission to destroy ISIS there has been completed.
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