U.S. airstrike destroys Russian-made tank used by pro-Syria forces

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By Courtney Kube

WASHINGTON — A U.S. airstrike in Syria destroyed a Russian-made tank operated by forces loyal to the Syrian government over the weekend, the second time pro-regime elements clashed with the U.S. military in three days, U.S. military officials said.

Pro-regime forces began advancing toward the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and their U.S. advisers near Al Tabiyeh, Syria, on Saturday, firing mortars and small-arms as they moved.

The coalition contacted Russian counterparts via the telephone deconfliction line before striking the T-72 tank, according to a coalition spokesperson, Col. Ryan Dillon.

“The tank had been maneuvering with coordinated indirect fire on a defensive position occupied by Syrian Democratic Forces and coalition advisers," Dillon said. "The defensive position was within effective range of the hostile weapons systems."

The tank was not firing on the SDF and the coalition, Dillon said, explaining that other elements in the formation were firing. There were no coalition or SDF casualties, Dillon said.

A Pentagon official said it was an MQ-9 Reaper that struck the tank with a precision-guided munition.