More troubling news from Syria. American troops came under fire at a base in the southern part of the country when Islamic State fighter mounted an elaborate attack on a coalition base. This is a developing story, and seems to be unrelated to the American missile attack earlier in the week which targeted Assad’s air force and chemical weapons capabilities.
The attack on the At-Tanf Garrison was reportedly both intense and elaborate (by Islamic State standards). CNN is reporting that the attackers arrived in suicide vehicles loaded with explosives, and that some of the fighters wore suicide vests. The coalition forces, upon seeing the vehicles approaching, called in air strikes.
The coalition forces facing the attackers estimated the number of fighters on the ground to have been between 20 and 30, though their advance was successfully repelled. There were no reported coalition casualties.
“Coalition and partnered forces engaged and defended the ISIS attack with direct fire before destroying enemy assault vehicles and the remaining fighters with multiple coalition airstrikes,” a coalition spokesperson wrote in a statement.
At-Tanf Garrison has been the focus of attacks in the past. Russian jets bombed the base in June of 2016, though there were no Americans present at that time.
Who’s who in the Syrian conflagration can be hard to parse out. Syrian opposition forces at the base currently are not affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces working in other parts of Syria.
“In Southern Syria, vetted Syrian opposition forces focus on conducting operations to clear ISIS from the Hamad Desert and have been instrumental in countering the ISIS threat in southern Syria and maintaining security along the Syria-Jordan border,” the coalition statement noted.
As for coalition itself, it is comprised of Turkey, Great Britain, France, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands.
It has been a busy day for the loosely organized Islamic State. Bombings in Egypt targeted christian churches. Two separate suicide bombers are believed to have killed as many as 46 worshipers during Palm Sunday services.