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Syria says US-led coalition hit its forces in the east

The Syrian military said the US-led coalition attacked one of its artillery positions in the country’s east, wounding two soldiers and destroying a cannon, according to state media reports on Sunday.
The spokesman for the US-led coalition Col. Sean Ryan said their partner forces acted in “self-defense” after coming under fire from the western side of the Euphrates River.
US-led coalition forces, with their local Kurdish-led partners, are battling the remnants of Daesh on the eastern banks of the Euphrates, while government troops and allied forces are now positioned on the other side after dislodging Daesh from there.
The incident highlights the risks of operating in close proximity with rival forces in the crowded area where Daesh militants are making their last stand.
An unnamed Syrian military official told state news agency SANA that the coalition’s attack took place late Saturday on government positons in Sukkariyah, west of Boukamal town. It was followed by a foiled incursion by Daesh militants, he added, accusing the US of aiding the militants. Damascus often accuses Washington of aiding “terrorists” to destabilize the government.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said militants, holed up in a small area on the Euphrates’ eastern bank, launched an attack against government forces and allied Iranian-backed troops in an apparent attempt to clear an escape route westward toward the desert. The militants also fired at government troops from their position, said the Observatory.
The Observatory said the Daesh attacks lasted for hours and left at least 11 militants, including three suicide bombers, dead.
Since the US announced in December that it’s withdrawing troops from Syria, Syrian government troops have beefed up their presence on the western banks of Euphrates. The timetable for the US withdrawal is not yet clear.
The US-led coalition and local Kurdish-led partners have been battling Daesh militants on the eastern banks of the river since September. The militants are now holding out in two farm areas along the river about four square kilometers in size. Thousands of civilians have fled the fighting but many are still believed to be trapped with the remaining militants.

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