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Mattis calls attack in Syria on U.S.-backed forces 'perplexing'

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis joins White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday called a thwarted attack on U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in Syria overnight “perplexing,” saying he had no idea what motivated pro-Syrian government forces to attempt the coordinated strike.

“It’s perplexing,” Mattis told reporters, adding initial information did not reveal any Russian forces among the attackers. “Why they chose to initiate this attack, you’ll have to ask them.”

Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by James Dalgleish