Feb. 13 (UPI) — A U.S. airstrike destroyed a Russian-built tank manned by pro-Syrian forces last weekend, the U.S. military officials said Tuesday.
Forces loyal to the Syrian government were firing mortars and small-arms Saturday while moving toward the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and their U.S. advisers near Al Tabiyeh, coalition officials said.
The U.S.-led coalition contacted Russian counterparts before using an MQ-9 Reaper to strike the T-72 tank, according to 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, although Dillon said other weapons were used.
No coalition or SDF casualties were reported, Dillon added.
Fox News reported three inside the tank were killed.
The T-72 battle tank has a 1970s Soviet-era design — the same type of tank was involved in last week’s attack on SDF headquarters, the Pentagon said. The 500-person attack also involved artillery, multiple-launch rockets systems and mortars.
In response, the United States killed 100 pro-government Syrian troops in air and artillery strikes.
The United States has backed SDF rebels in Syria’s civil war, while Russia has provided similar assistance to forces loyal to the Syrian government.