A U.S. fighter jet operating in Syria destroyed a Russian-built tank over the weekend in an act that officials described as self-defense.
- A US jet operating in Syria destroyed a Russian-made T-72 battle tank near Al Tabiyeh, Syria, on Saturday, the Pentagon said.
- The tank was destroyed nearly week after a Bloomberg report said Russian mercenary forces fired on a position held by US troops and their Syrian rebel allies.
- No US or SDF forces were killed in either attack, the Pentagon told Business Insider.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson first reported the destruction of the tank, noting that the tanks’ three-man crew were all killed in the strike inside. What makes this incident noteworthy is the fact that it is unclear who was operating the tank, whether it was the Syrian government, forces loyal to the Syrian government, or members of the Russian military.
JUST IN: US jet destroys Russian T-72 battle tank in E Syria in 'self-defense' Saturday after 'pro-regime forces' fired on US special ops and allied Syrian fighters near same location of last week's attack, officials say. No US or allied casualties. 3 inside tank killed.
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) February 13, 2018
“The tank had been maneuvering with coordinated indirect fire on a defensive position occupied by Syrian Democratic Forces and Coalition advisers,” U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway told Business Insider.
The tank was reportedly destroyed after “pro-regime forces” launched an attack on U.S. special forces last week, which prompted the U.S. to respond “with a furious barrage of air and artillery strikes and reported killing 100 pro-government troops, but sources told Bloomberg on Saturday that as many as 200 or 300 Russian mercenaries were killed in the attack.”
The US maintains regular contact with the Russian military and has established hotlines to ensure the forces don’t come in contact, but reports suggest an increasing presence of Russian contractors in Syria.
The T-72 battle tank was a 1970s Soviet-era design that has seen heavy upgrades and use in the Syrian theater. The Pentagon reported that T-72s took part in the attack on the SDF headquarters on Wednesday.
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