US dismisses fears of wider war after deadly Syria clashes

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis dismissed concerns on Thursday that the United States was being dragged into a broader conflict in Syria, after a major clash with pro-Syrian government forces overnight that may have left 100 or more of them dead.

The US-led coalition said it repelled an unprovoked attack near the Euphrates River by hundreds of troops aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who were backed by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars.

The incident underscored the potential for further conflict in Syria’s oil-rich east, where the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias holds swathes of land after its offensive against ISIS.