US strikes Qaida to support Syrian trainees

A member of a new Syrian force trained by the US military was believed to have been killed in clashes last week with al-Qaida’s Syria wing, in what would be the fledgling force’s first battlefield casualty, US officials said on Monday.


The US officials, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity to discuss the incident, said the Syrian rebel was believed to have been killed during fighting on Friday with suspected members of Nusra Front. One of the officials described the information as preliminary.


The Pentagon declined to comment, citing “operational security reasons.”


Friday’s attack triggered the first US air strikes to support the Syrian force. At the time, the US military said the fighters repelled the attack, without citing casualties among the US-trained force.


Defending the US-trained fighters could become a growing job for United States, which has been waging air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.


US officials disclosed to Reuters on Sunday that the United States has decided to allow air strikes to help defend against any attack on the US-trained Syrian rebels, even if the attackers come from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.


US President Barack Obama has long sought to avoid any direct US military confrontation with Assad’s forces, focusing instead on the battle against Islamic State.


The Pentagon, State Department and White House have so far declined to publicly detail the rules of engagement in Syria.


Read More: US strikes Qaida to support Syrian trainees | i24news – See beyond