Beirut (AFP) – An air strike by the US-led coalition in positions of the Syrian army killed at least 12 pro-regime fighters in an area where both sides have been fighting against retained jihadists, a monitor said on Thursday.
Syrian state media reported the strike but said it only caused material damage, while the coalition did not comment on the incident.
The Syrian Human Rights Observatory based in Great Britain, which relies on a wide network of sources throughout Syria, said the raid would hit army positions south of Albu Kamal, a city on Syria's border with Iraq .
"At least three vehicles were destroyed by the strike," Rami Abdel Rahman, the chief of the Observatory, said.
He said that the 12 pro regime fighters killed in the incident were not Syrians, but could not provide more details about his identity.
A military source quoted by the state news agency SANA said that "some of our military positions between Albu Kamal and Hmeimeh were reached this morning in an attack by warplanes of the American coalition"
Albu Kamal and Hmeimeh They are in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, where Syrian troops backed by Russia and the US-led coalition have waged separate offensives against the Islamic State group.
A "line of mistrust" in place along the Euphrates River since last year aims to prevent the two badaults from colliding with each other.
Loyalist troops are present west of the river while the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are in the east.
A military source of forces allied with the Syrian government said the attacks had targeted two military positions near the front line with IS.
– Repeated incidents –
"There are no Iranian or Lebanese fighters among the dead," the source said.
The Iraqi Shia militia is also fighting alongside the forces of the Syrian regime in the area.
It was not clear if the jihadists were active in the area at that time, nor whether the regime's casualties may have been accidental.
The coalition has carried out several deadly attacks against Syrian government forces and allied fighters in recent months.
In February, bombings by the coalition in the province of Deir Ezzor killed at least 100 fighters of the regime and allies, including Russian citizens, in retaliation for an attack on SDF positions.
And in September 2016, the US-led attacks against the regime's military positions in the east left more than 60 Syrian troops dead. Later, the coalition said it had confused the fighters with the IS jihadists.
The Islamic State group lost almost all of the territory it once controlled in Syria and Iraq, but still has some villages in the Euphrates valley area.
Syrian troops and allied forces expelled IS from their last districts in the capital, Damascus.
After a fierce month-long battle, an evacuation agreement saw the remaining jihadists leave the city in search of small pockets of land. It is in Badiya, a vast desert area that stretches from central Syria to its Eastern border with Iraq.
The day after the transfer, IS fighters in Badiya attacked a nearby government position, leaving more than two dozen Syrian troops and allied fighters dead.
The Observatory said that the IS fighters were from the group that had just been transferred out of the Yarmouk area in southern Damascus.