US-led coalition aircraft struck ground forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad on Thursday, after the Syrian regime repeatedly violated an international de-militarized zone surrounding a US-protected army base, reports CBS News.
The al-Tanf army base is used by American military personnel to train and equip Syrian rebels in their fight against al-Assad; the area surrounding the base is a no-go zone for the Syrian regime or other combatants.
After multiple infractions and maneuvers near al-Tanf, the U.S air force struck a Syrian-backed convoy operating in the region. It is unclear why the vehicles entered the area, but US officials believe they posed a direct threat to American forces and their allies.
The convoy had repeatedly violated the 34-mile radius safety-zone surrounding the base.
The vehicles were operated by a militia group backed and equipped by Assad, but were not directly under the command of the Syrian dictator.
This is the first direct US strike against Syrian regime loyalists since President Trump’s cruise missile assault earlier this year in retaliation for Assad’s use of chemical weapons. The move could signal further involvement by the Trump administration in Syria's ongoing civi-war.
To date, the six-year long conflict has taken the lives of nearly half a million people.