U.S. troops, Syrian government loyalists clash

U.S. troops and loyalists of the Syrian government on Wednesday clashed in the north-east of the war-torn country, a monitoring group and state media reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said tensions rose between both sides after locals in the government-controlled village of Khirbet Ammo refused to allow a U.S. patrol to pass through the area.

“Pro-government gunmen fired shots in the air, prompting the U.S. soldiers to throw smoke bombs to disperse the crowd and clear the way.

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“The situation then escalated into an exchange of fire, resulting in the killing of one person.

“It has not been established if the person was a civilian or a pro-government militiaman,’’ the Observatory said.

It added that U.S. warplanes were seen hovering over the area following the clash.

Syria’s state Syrian News Agency SANA meanwhile reported that one civilian in the area was killed “when American Occupation forces” opened fire on locals who had gathered near a Syrian army checkpoint in Khirbet Ammo to prevent U.S. vehicles from passing.

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SANA added that angry villagers had damaged four U.S. military vehicles.

The Rajova Information Centre, an activist group close to the Syrian Kurds that monitors the area, confirmed to dpa the clash without giving details.

The U.S. has been allied with Syrian Kurds since 2014 in a military campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria.

The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly condemned the U.S. military presence in the strife-devastated country as illegal.

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