More than 100 Assad forces killed in US-backed attack

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Turkey resumed its airstrikes on a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria on Thursday after a brief pause in aerial attacks, the Associated Press reported on Friday. New layers of complexity are descending on a shifting battlefield, as demonstrated by a deadly barrage of American air and artillery strikes on a shadowy attacker.

Russian Federation officially withdrew its forces from Syria in December 2017 after two years fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad, though hundreds of private military contractors from Russian Federation remain in the country. But Trump administration critics disagreed.

It accused Syrian pro-government forces of initiating an attack on the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

"The military goal is to defeat ISIS in Syria", White said.

Moscow's rhetoric against Washington took on Thursday a different direction, when Russian Federation accused the U.S. military presence in Syria of being used to oust the regime.

Mattis rejected Kaine's suggestion the USA is being drawn into a broader war.

"We demand (that the worldwide community) condemn this massacre and hold the coalition responsible for it", Syrian state news agency reported.

US Marines firing a howitzer in Syria. Syrian forces control the western side of the line, and the SDF controls the eastern side of the line.

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A stronghold of Islamic State jihadists until late past year, the area was the group's main source of oil revenue.

The incident underscored the potential for further conflict in Syria's oil-rich east, where the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias holds swathes of land after its offensive against Islamic State. Russian contract soldiers were killed in the attack. It sees them as an existential threat to Turkey. The official said that Iranian-backed forces might have also been involved in the attack.

The Wagner Group is a paramilitary contract force similar to the former U.S. Blackwater company that became infamous in the Iraq War. Whatever group wins out - the government, rebels or extremists such as IS - would be far less equipped than the USA to maintain stability, the American argument goes.

About 2000 USA forces remain on the ground in Syria, allied to the Kurdish-led SDF alliance.

"We are there to fight ISIS".

Commenting on what happened in Deir Ezzor, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described the attack on the US-backed fighters as "perplexing".

U.S. warplanes and artillery batteries carried out an unprovoked massacre of up to 100 pro-government troops in the northeastern province of Deir Ezzor Wednesday, signaling the initiation of a new and far more unsafe stage in the more than three-year-old direct USA military intervention in Syria. Mattis said U.S. special operations troops were present as advisers at the headquarters.

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