WASHINGTON — U.S.-led airstrikes on Thursday destroyed multiple tanks and weapons seized by Islamic State fighters when the terrorist group recaptured the Syrian city of Palmyra, the Pentagon said Friday.

The Islamic State group seized the weapons – including an air defense system -- when it attacked Russian and Syrian forces left to guard Palmyra and the nearby Tiyas Military Airbase, a senior defense official confirmed on the condition of anonymity.

The Russian and Syrian weapons, which the terrorist group captured earlier this week, troubled U.S. officials because of the potential danger they posed for pilots of the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve coalition flying missions in Syria and the approximately 300 U.S. special operators assisting Kurdish forces on the ground in the northern portion of the country. At a news briefing Wednesday, the top U.S. commander for Iraq and Syria, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, said Russian forces needed to secure the area again.

“If they don’t, we will,” Townsend told reporters at the Pentagon.

On Thursday, U.S.-led coalition airstrikes hit 14 tanks, three artillery systems, two Islamic State-held buildings, two tactical vehicles and a different air defense artillery system located near Palmyra and around Tiyas Military Airbase, an airfield once used by the Syrian air force that was overrun by the terrorist group.

The U.S. official said the air defense system remains in an Islamic State group-controlled area and would likely be targeted again if it is moved.

Russian aircraft also conducted strikes against the Islamic State group in and around Palmyra, the official said. The U.S. and Russia officials were in communication as the strikes were conducted, the official said.

In all, 16 U.S-led coalition aircraft fired 22 munitions destroying 22 targets, according to a statement from the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. Twitter:@TaraCopp

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