May 19 (UPI) — Syria and Russia condemned airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition that they said killed at least eight people.
Coalition planes struck a convoy, which included four tanks, on Thursday as it came within 17 miles of a Maghaweer al-Thawra faction of rebels opposing the Syrian government.
A U.S. defense official said the convoy did not respond to numerous warnings and was “getting too close to coalition forces.” The attack occurred near a “de-escalation zone” near the al-Tanf border crossing between Syria and Jordan. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the eight fatalities were “mostly non-Syrians.”
The Syrian government called the airstrikes a “blatant attack on forces fighting terrorism” on state television. Syria has an ally in Russia, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said in Geneva that the airstrikes were “completely unacceptable” and a violation of “the sovereignty of the country,” the BBC reported, citing the Russian state-run news agency Ria Novosti.
A statement from the U.S.-led coalition said the convoy included Syrian forces and militias backed by Iran, and “posed a threat to U.S. and partner forces,” adding that Russia was notified prior to the airstrike.
Leaders of anti-Syrian militias said earlier this week that hundreds of Syrian troops and pro-Syrian militias were entering the sparsely populated desert region near Jordan.