Moment US destroys Russian tanks 'killing hundreds of soldiers' as conflict ERUPTS

Moment US destroys Russian tanks 'killing hundreds of soldiers' as conflict ERUPTS

Veale said that about "20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters" of the Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters before the US-backed fighters and coalition forces "targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes". Associated Press reporters Deb Riechmann and Josh Lederman contributed from Washington and Lolita C. Baldor from Brussels. The deaths follow unconfirmed reports of scores that died during an American airstrike on a pro-Assad force assault on an oil complex held by anti-regime elements supported by the American coalition.

"I can't give you anything on that". He said he would not speculate on the composition of this force.

USA officials first explained that some 500 "pro-Syrian regime forces", using Russian-made T-54 and T-72 tanks, attacked a "well-established headquarters" of the SDF in the Middle Euphrates River Valley in Deir al-Zor Governorate, eight kilometers east of the river.

Despite joint pledges to work together to destroy ISIS and other terror networks, Russia and the United States find themselves on opposite sides of the ongoing conflict; with U.S. forces equipping Syrian rebels and Russian forces supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo also refused to confirm specifics when asked whether the U.S. was responsible for killing Russian contract soldiers in Syria during a hearing on Tuesday, but said, "We have seen in multiple instances foreign forces using mercenaries in battles that will begin to approach the United States". "And I believe, again, that's something we always have the right to do and will make sure we're in a position to do", Harrigan added.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon, interviewed the Iraqi Kurdistan network Rudaw TV, stressed that US was prepared to defend itself and its Syrian allies from any attack, but insisted the American forces were in Syria for one objective - to ensure the defeat of Islamic State. "At the start of this attack, coalition aircraft, including F-22s and MQ-9s, were overhead providing protective overwatch, defensive counter-air, and ISR support-as we have done daily throughout the defeat-the fight to defeat ISIS", Harrigian said.

Data on the numbers of dead Russian soldiers varies.

Dozens protest as Turkish, US diplomats try to calm ties
The U.S. had warned Turkey against such move which it said could lead to confrontation between Turkish and U.S. troops. Ankara has long called for YPG forces to move east of the Euphrates river in Syria.

The Russian Defense Ministry charged that the incident reflected a US push to grab Syria's economic assets under the cover of fighting the Islamic State group. The reports cited activists who said that at least four Russian citizens were killed in Syria on February 7.

The Pentagon has not confirmed the composition of the pro-Assad forces involved in Wednesday's incident, but reports previously said Russian mercenaries were among the group.

Two sons of a prominent tribal leader were also killed, according to social-media posts from Syria.

President Vladimir Putin has said repeatedly that the Russian intervention in Syria, which began in late 2015, was winding down, and in December ordered that uniformed Russian troops and equipment be withdrawn.

Observers noted the Russian military might have lacked information about the private contractors' move on oil facilities because of poor co-ordination between them. A St Petersburg company known as PWC Vagner has been one of the most prominent.

The Kremlin has declined to comment on the attack, saying only that Russian civilians could be in Syria but it did not have detailed information. The New York Times cited a Syrian military officer as saying about 100 Russian soldiers had been killed. Asked at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about Russian deaths, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said, 'From an intelligence perspective, we have seen in multiple instances foreign forces using mercenaries in battles that will begin to approach the United States.' He deferred on the specifics on the incident to the Pentagon.

Such occurrences that may happen whether by intention or accident may plunge both the United States and the Russian Federation into situations that they tried to avoid at all cost even during the darkest hours of the cold war.

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