A US-led coalition drone has destroyed a Russian-designed tank in eastern Syria close to the scene of last week's attack on pro-regime forces that left more than 100 Damascus loyalists dead, officials said today.
"It continued to move, so we... executed self-defence rules of engagement to protect ourselves."
For the most part, the US-led coalition has managed to skirt the edges of Syria's civil war by staying focused on the Islamic State group.
But occasional attacks on pro-regime forces, which the US says are conducted in self defence, raise the risks of it being sucked into a broader conflict.
The incident came three days after the US-led coalition killed more than 100 forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after shelling and using tanks to fire at the SDF and coalition advisers.
Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said the coalition had spoken with Russia via a special hotline prior to the strike "to avoid misperceptions and miscalculations that could endanger each other's forces."
At the time of the February 7 attack, the Russian defence ministry said "there are no Russian servicemen in Deir-Ezzor."
However, many Russian citizens are fighting in Syria as mercenaries working for a private military company called Wagner, according to numerous reports.