White said in a press briefing the US-led coalition had been observing a buildup of pro-Syrian forces in the area for over a week prior to the decision to launch a strike. Coalition officials warned the Russian officials of the Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) presence via the so-called deconfliction line.
"We had a very productive conversation … we told them [Russians], they knew what was happening. They agreed not to attack Coalition forces. So, from that respect it was successful," White said.
She went on to note that the US is not looking for a conflict with the Syrian government forces, adding that "any action that takes away from our ongoing operations to defeat ISIS [Daesh] is a distraction." The remark follows a condemnation from the Syrian Foreign Ministry that called the strike a "war crime" and pledged to turn to the UN to hold the US-led coalition accountable.
Overnight on Thursday, the US-coalition coalition attacked Syrian pro-government armed groups who were on a reconnaissance and a search mission near the former Al-Isba oil refinery. The coalition said the strike was carried out in retaliation to an "unprovoked attack" on the headquarters of the US allies — the Kurdish-led group Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) — eight kilometers east of the deconfliction line on the Euphrates River.
The Russian Ministry of Defense reported that 25 Syrian militiamen were injured as a result of the attack, saying that the cause of the incident was the lack of coordination between the Russian military and Syrian militiamen.