Syrian government forces were conducting a military operation against ISIS cells in the area of al-Isba in the province of Deir Ezzor when they were struck by the US-led coalition’s aircraft on February 7, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on February 8.
According to the statement, the ISIS recently increased activity in the area sparking response from the government forces.
“Shelling of the positions of Syrian pro-government forces has increased during the past days near the communities of Mazloum, At-Tabiyyah and Khsham in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate [Deir Ezzor province], to where the civilian population is returning. Radio interception revealed that the Syrian troops were shelled by militants from an ISIS sleeper cell that had activated in the area,” the ministry said.
A local militia was conducting reconnaissance actions in the area to detect and eliminate the ISIS cell when it was surprisingly shelled by mortars, rocket launched and then the US-led coalition’s attack helicopters. 25 militiamen were injured as a result of the attack.
On February 7, the US-led coalition said that it had struck government troops allegedly attacking the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the eastern bank of the Euphrates in the province of Deir Ezzor.