WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. forces, along with Syrian opposition forces, engaged in a firefight over the weekend with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after the terrorist group launched an attack on a base in southern Syria.
ISIS launched the attack on Al Tanf Garrison with a vehicle laden with explosives as 20 to 30 ISIS fighters then launched a ground assault, including suicide vest attacks, according to the U.S.-led military coalition fighting ISIS.
“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 statement said.
The coalition confirmed to Breitbart News that the coalition forces fighting on the ground included U.S. forces.
“Coalition and U.S. Forces were on the ground with partnered Syrian opposition forces at the Garrison when the attack occurred. There were no Coalition casualties,” Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said in an email.
The attack, however, left four Syrian opposition fighters and eight ISIS fighters killed and “many wounded,” rebel sources told Reuters.
The attack occurred around midnight Saturday. The vehicle laden with explosives rammed an entrance to the base, and a senior rebel source from one of the U.S.-backed rebel groups involved in the fight told Reuters there were clashes inside the base. ISIS also announced the attack had occurred through its news channel, Amaq.
Coalition planes were called in to help repel the attack. The coalition noted in a daily update on airstrikes to media outlets that, “On April 7, near Al Tanf, one strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed 10 fighting positions.”
The base at Al Tanf is a staging ground and training facility for U.S.-backed Syrian rebels, according to the Wall Street Journal. A “Western intelligence source” told Reuters that U.S. and British special forces are expanding the Tanf base to use it as a major launching pad for operations in coming months to oust ISIS from a nearby stronghold of Bukamal.
CENTCOM said the vetted Syrian opposition forces are conducting operations to clear ISIS from the Hamad Desert and have been “instrumental” in both countering the ISIS threat in southern Syria and maintaining security along the Syrian-Jordan border.
The U.S. currently has more than 500 forces in Syria. The U.S. military footprint has expanded in recent months, with the recent deployments of Rangers to Manbij in northern Syria to ensure that Turkish-backed elements and Kurdish forces do not fight each other. Hundreds of Marines also recently deployed to Syria to provide artillery support to local Syrian forces in the upcoming offensive to retake Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital.