On February 8, US Department of Defense spokesperson Dana White claimed that the US-led coalition had informed the Russian side of its plans to attack the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in Deir Ezzor in advance, according to the Russian state-run news agency Sputnik.
“The coalition officials alerted Russian officials of the SDF presence via the de-confliction line in advance of the attack,” White said during a press briefing, according to Sputnik.
White added that the US-led coalition had even contacted Russia after its attack on the SAA and stressed that the coalition was not looking to start a conflict with the SAA and the Damascus government.
From its side, Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia described the US-led coalition attack on the SAA as “regrettable” and said that Russia will raise the incident during a UN Security Council closed-door briefing on the Syria’s humanitarian situation on February 8, according to Reuters.
“That’s very regrettable, we will raise that issue, we will ask them what happened,” Nebenzia told reporters, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile more information about the US-led coalition attack on the SAA apppeared. Lucas Tomlinson, a journalist of Fox News TV, revealed that Apache attack helicopters, AC-130 gunship, F-22 and F-15 warplanes and US Marine Corps artillery units participated in the attack on the SAA positions in the town of Khasham in the eastern Deir Ezzor countryside on February 7.
U.S. counter-attack in Syria included Air Force AC-130 gunships, F-15s, F-22s, Army Apache helicopter gunships and Marine Corps artillery killing 100 Russian and Assad-backed fighters in 3-hour battle beginning around midnight last night.
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) February 8, 2018
Furthermore, the Arab al-Bakara tribe announced in an official statement that dozens of its sons were killed in the US-led coalition airstrikes on the SAA. Earlier, Syrian opposition sources claimed that the US-led coalition target “Iranian and Russian forces” in Khasham. However, it appears that these claims were nothing more than a propaganda stunt to justify the airstrikes.
Al-Bakara also vowed in its official statement to continue its fight against ISIS, the US-led coalition and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and described the three forces as “occupiers” and “terrorists”.
Local sources believe that the Euphrates Valley region may witness more similar incidents in the future, as the tension in the region is higher than ever.