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US airstrikes target pro-Assad forces in Syria

WASHINGTON — Syrian regime forces occupying five vehicles were targeted by US airstrikes after breaching a “de-confliction zone,” a US official told CNN Thursday.

The strike was near a base in An Tanf used by the US-led coalition to train “Vetted Syrian Opposition” to aid the fight against ISIS.

Two US aircraft were dispatched as a “show of force” to get the Syrian vehicles to turn around. According to a US defense official, the vehicles did not stop and the show of force was escalated to include an airstrike. The official said at this time it is not clear if the strike was intended as a warning or intended to hit regime forces, who were militia tied to the regime as opposed to regular army troops.

A second US defense official said that an additional strike did hit the convoy after the vehicles continued toward the base.

A convoy of 20 pro-regime vehicles were headed toward An Tanf Wednesday night, searching vehicles and buildings along the way, according to a US official. Thirteen of the vehicles breached the “de-confliction zone” around the base that is the area that the coalition has communicated to the Russians to stay away from. The official said five of the vehicles came within 29 kilometers of the base at about midnight EST Thursday when the aircraft were dispatched.

There is a Syrian regime base nearby, the official said, adding that forces there are equipping to handle about a battalion’s worth of troops.