U.S. military officials said the coalition was in contact with Russia before, during and after Wednesday's attack and had alerted Russia to the presence of SDF forces in that area.Mattis said the Russians had told American military officials that they did not have any Russian forces there.
"You can’t ask Russia to deconflict something they don’t control. The fact that somebody chose to attack us, and the Russians are saying, ‘’It’s not us,’ and we are firing on them to stop the artillery fire, that, to me, is not a failure of the deconfliction line," Mattis explained.
"Mattis showed Ukrainian generals how to comment on the war in the Donbas while the U.S. special operations forces, artillery and assault aircraft showed how to eliminate the Russian mercenaries. If you say that you have no forces there, you will no longer have them," Censor.NET Chief Editor Yurii Butusov wrote on social media recalling Mattis’ best quotes.
As reported, from 300 to 500 pro-government forces attacked an SDF headquarters near Deir el-Zour, Syria on the night of Feb. 8, but retreated after the U.S.-led coalition knocked out their artillery and two of their tanks. The U.S. military suspects the pro-regime forces were trying to move in on oil fields previously held by the Islamic State group for the past three years, but are now controlled by U.S.-backed fighters. The news agencies run by the Syrian government, the Russian Defense Ministry, and the Pentagon confirmed the devastating strike on the pro-regime forces.