A US jet operating in Syria destroyed a Russian-made T-72 battle tank near Al Tabiyeh, Syria on Saturday, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This past weekend, as we have been reporting to you, Israel inflicted a series a devastating airstrikes on Iranian positions deep within Syria. But news coming over the wire this morning shows the events of the past few days are eminently more complex than originally thought. At the same time Israel was destroying Iranian military strongholds, the United States sent two F-22 Raptors to wipe out a nest of Russian mercenaries that had fired upon US coalition forces. Isn’t it so great to now have a president that actually sides with Israel and backs them up, instead of a president who stabbed Israel in the back every chance he got while empowering their enemies? Truly President Trump was placed in this position by God for such a time as this.
“The tank had been maneuvering with coordinated indirect fire on a defensive position occupied by Syrian Democratic Forces and Coalition advisors,” US Marine Corps Major Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway said, adding that the SDF’s “position was within effective range of the hostile weapons systems.”
The US has been training, equipping and backing the SDF rebels in Syria’s civil war for years as Russia has provided similar assistance to pro-regime forces in close proximity.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson first reported the news of the tank’s destruction and said that it had fired on US special operations troops in the same location as an attack last week, wherein 500 pro-regime forces fired on a US and SDF headquarters.
The US responded to that attack on February 7 with a furious barrage of air and artillery strikes and reported killing 100 pro-regime forces, but sources told Bloomberg on Saturday that as many as 200 or 300 Russian mercenaries were killed in the attack.
U.S. forces killed scores of Russian mercenaries in Syria last week in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War, according to one U.S. official and three Russians familiar with the matter.
More than 200 contract soldiers, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base held by U.S. and mainly Kurdish forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region, two of the Russians said. The U.S. official put the death toll at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured.
The Russian assault may have been a rogue operation, underscoring the complexity of a conflict that started as a domestic crackdown only to morph into a proxy war involving Islamic extremists, stateless Kurds and regional powers Iran, Turkey and now Israel. Russia’s military said it had nothing to do with the attack and the U.S. accepted the claim. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the whole thing “perplexing,” but provided no further details.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on reports of Russian casualties, saying the Kremlin only tracks data on the country’s armed forces. Putin talked with U.S. President Donald Trump by phone Monday, but the military action in Syria wasn’t discussed, he said. source