At least one Syrian soldier killed in strike against ISIS

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At least one Syrian soldier was killed and seven others wounded in a US-led coalition strike against ISIS in Syria on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based monitor reported “explosions” in the desert around 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Palmyra, the famed ancient city that ISIS overran twice in Syria’s war.

“The position targeted is only 20 kilometres from the region of al-Tanaf,” said the group’s director Rami Abdel Rahman, adding that the toll could rise as many of the wounded were in a “serious condition”.

The Pentagon denied any strike had occurred and that while there was a brief clash, there had been no casualties.

Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway told AFP that fighters from the US-backed Syrian rebel group Maghawir al-Thawra and coalition advisors “within the de-confliction zone near al-Tanaf were engaged by an unidentified hostile force located just outside the de-confliction zone”.

The US-backed rebels and coalition advisors “returned fire in self-defense, at which time the hostile force disengaged”, Rankine-Galloway said.

The coalition has agreed with Russia to a 55-kilometre de-confliction zone near Al-Tanaf, where US forces train anti-extremist Syrian fighters.

The strike came after a deadly air strike on Sunday evening hit the border town of Al-Hari in eastern Syria near the frontier with Iraq, according to state media and the Syrian Observatory.

Fifty-five fighters including Syrians and Iraqis were killed. A US official speaking anonymously in Washington blamed Israel.

The raid was particularly deadly for the Iraqi fighters working alongside the Syrian regime. Iraq’s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force said 22 of its members were among those killed.

Placed under the authority of the Iraqi premier, these forces include groups close to Iran, including the Hezbollah Brigades, which lost fighters in the strikes.

In recent months, Israel has stepped up its military incursions against Iranian forces in Syria, vehemently criticizing Tehran’s attachment to its Syrian neighbor.

On May 24, 12 pro-regime fighters died in an air raid against Syrian army positions south of Abu Kamal, a town a few kilometers from the Iraq border.

The Syrian Observatory and Syrian state media had attributed this strike to the coalition although this was denied by the Pentagon.

On February 7, the coalition admitted to killing at least 100 pro-regime fighters in the eastern Deir Ezzor province.

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