Syria, Russia: US coalition airstrike killed eight

The U.S. -led coalition operates a training facility there for Syrian opposition forces fighting ISIS. "There's been a lot of talk about Astana lately, but this is actually the main show for solving the Syrian conflict", the diplomat said. There was no immediate comment from the pro-government side.

The airstrikes came in response to pro-Syrian government forces that posed a threat to US troops and partner forces near the Jordan border, the coalition said. A bulldozer and a tank were hit, but US officials said it was unclear on Thursday whether they had struck the Syrian army or just militias allied with the government.

"We discussed the massacre that the USA aggressor committed yesterday in our country", Syrian government negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari said, referring to a conversation with United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura and referring to the USA action as "government terrorism".

He was referring not only to Thursday's strike but also to others carried out by the USA -led coalition in recent months that have claimed the lives of civilians in areas held by the Islamic State group.

The U.S. -led coalition did not signal it would cede ground around Tanf.

The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

The incident took place as pro-government forces reportedly entered one of the recently implemented de-escalation zones in Homs province, where they allegedly clashed with the US-backed Maghawir Al-Thawra militant group (formerly known as "New Syrian Army").

There was no immediate response from the USA -led coalition following the reports.

United States airstrikes targeting pro-Assad forces close to the Iraqi border have been branded "completely unacceptable" by Russian Federation.

US-led troops helped repel a major IS attack on Tanf last month, while Russian warplanes bombed the base in June 2016. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike destroyed vehicles and killed eight militiamen.

The Syrian government, which has launched an offensive in the country's south backed by its allies — militias such as Iranian paramilitaries and the Lebanese Hezbollah group — has vowed to reach the border area with Iraq.

Two competing coalitions - backed by air power from the U.S.in one case and from Russian Federation in the other - are racing to the same goal, creating a potentially volatile situation and increasing the likelihood of clashes such as the one Thursday.

-Sarah El Deeb in Beirut and Lolita Baldor in Washington.

According to Russian officials on Friday, the new U.S. strike undermines anti-terrorism efforts in the region.

Tensions have been building as part of a race for control of territory stretching from the provincial capital of Deir el-Zour in northeastern Syria to the Iraq border.

The convoy was hit on Thursday as it neared a group of US-backed rebels and a Western special forces unit in Tanf.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters on Friday that US President Donald Trump has authorized commanders in the field to conduct some strikes without direct Pentagon approval, a shift from the previous administration.

"This is not only an attack in Syria and against Syria, but also against Geneva [negotiations]". The strikes destroyed several vehicles.

Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011 after the regime launched a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The reports gave different death tolls for the IS attack on the village of Aqarab al-Safiyeh in central Syria.

This is not to say that the new strategy is exactly clear.

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