Syria says US airstrike killed several soldiers near Jordan

BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian military official said Friday that an aerial “aggression” by the U.S.-led coalition on a government military position near the border with Jordan the day before killed several soldiers and caused material damage.

The strike was the first such close confrontation between U.S. forces and fighters backing President Bashar Assad and the development is likely to increase tensions in the war-torn country.

The unnamed official’s comments were carried by Syrian state TV a day after the strike.

The U.S.-led coalition said Thursday that a U.S. airstrike hit pro-Syrian government forces it said posed a threat to American troops and allied rebels operating near the border with Jordan.

The attack comes at a time when the U.S. presence in Syria is becoming more visible, mostly in the northern parts of the country where American troops are backing Kurdish-led forces fighting the Islamic State group.

This “flagrant aggression launched by the International coalition exposes the falsity of its allegation about fighting terrorism and undoubtedly demonstrates the reality of the Zionist-American project in the region,” the Syrian official said.

In Geneva meanwhile, Bashar al-Ja’afari, the head of the Syrian delegation to the peace talks underway in the Swiss city, told reports there that he discussed the airstrike during a meeting Friday with the U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, describing the attack as “state terrorism.”

“In every meeting we remind the attendees that there is terrorism by terrorists and also terrorism by states committed against our country,” al-Ja’afari said.

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

Russia, a main backer of Assad, also denounced the airstrike.

“Whatever the reason for the U.S. strike was, it was illegitimate and marked another flagrant violation of Syria’s…

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