The British Royal Airforce directly targeted pro-Syrian regime forces near the border with Iraq and Jordan last month, The Sunday Times reports. One Syrian army officer was killed and seven others were injured.
The attack took place a month ago, when a RAF Typhoon fighter jet dropped a 500lb Paveway IV bomb on pro-Assad forces during a firefight near a British and American Special Forces base in the desert near al-Tanf on the Jordanian-Iraqi border. The bomb was dropped in response to the regime forces' attempt to approach the base. The base is used to train a Syrian rebel group fighting ISIS, Maghawir al-Thowra (MaT).
The base is surrounded by a 34-mile "deconfliction zone," which pro-Assad militias have been instructed by the U.S. to stay out of.
This is the first time that the British military bombed pro-Assad forces since it took part in a series of airstrikes in Syria with the Western Coalition in April, in response to Assad's reported use of chemical weapons against civilians in rebel-held territories.
In a separate incident, the Sunday Times reported that a £44 million transport aircraft has been seriously damaged in an accident in the Syrian desert. The damage was caused after a heavy landing during a covert mission. The aircraft, a C-130J Hercules, was used by the British SAS (Special Forces) in special missions in Iraq and Syria.
There have been various scuffles between the coalition forces and the pro-Assad Shi'ite militias which control the border area.
On June 21, several Maghawir al-Thowra combatants and coalition "consultants" fell under fire from from outside the zone. The firing came from an area not known to be under ISIS control, according to the British Ministry of Defense.
The forces withdrew in order to defuse the situation, but one position persisted in firing upon them, said the Ministry statement.
It said the retaliatory strike was "wholly proportionate," but refused to disclose the identity of the forces attacked.
Maghawir al-Thowra is a rebel group compromising of defectors of the Syrian Arab Army (pro-Assad), and the remnants of other rebel groups established in the Syrian Civil War.
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