The U.S. bombed a convoy of pro-Assad fighters Thursday as they advanced on U.S. “partner forces,” according to the coalition’s official Twitter account.
Another tweet added that the strike came only after several attempts to warn the convoy from advancing any further.
The al-Tanf area referenced is home to a base where U.S. special forces train anti-ISIS fighters. It’s surrounded by a deconfliction zone. The pro-Assad forces got too close to that zone, USA Today reports, adding that the “airstrike targeted a tank and two earth movers that were building fighting positions within the defensive zone.”
U.S. military is not yet certain if those bombed were Syrian army or pro-Assad militia, USA Today notes. BuzzFeed says the convoy included “regime-allied militia mixed with Syrian government forces.” And a leader from a “Pentagon-backed rebel group” told Reuters that the forces were made up of the “Syrian army and Iranians.”
A strike on pro-Assad forces, be they militia troops or members of the Syrian army, marks a turn from the reason the U.S. is in Syria — to fight ISIS. This is only the second time the U.S. has bombed pro-Assad targets after last month’s strikes on an airfield in retaliation for a chemical attack.
Fighting Assad and ISIS at the same time is not only “madness and idiocy,” as Trump said last year, it’s potentially illegal given the lack of Congressional authorization to strike regime targets. That’s a point one Democratic lawmaker is already making.