US carries out Syria airstrikes in reprisal attack on Iran-backed militia | Syria

The US military has said it has carried out airstrikes in areas of eastern Syria used by Iran-backed militias.

The US military’s Central Command spokesperson, Colonel Joe Buccino, said in a statement on Wednesday: “Today’s strikes were necessary to protect and defend US personnel”, and were in response to an attack on 15 August targeting US forces.

The strikes were “proportionate, deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimise the risk of casualties”, he added. Buccino did not identify the targets, nor offer any casualty figures from the strikes, which came at the orders of president Joe Biden.

There was no immediate acknowledgment by Syria’s state-run media of the strikes hitting Deir Ez-Zor. Iran did not immediately acknowledge the attack.

Opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and activist collective Deir Ezzor 24 said the airstrikes targeted the Ayash Camp run by the Fatimiyoun group made up of Shiite fighters from Afghanistan. The war monitor reported that at least six Syrian and foreign militants were killed in the airstrikes.

The 15 August attack saw drones allegedly launched by Iranian-backed militias target the al-Tanf garrison used by American forces. US Central Command described the assault as causing “zero casualties and no damage” at the time.

Deir Ez-Zor is a strategic province that borders Iraq and contains oilfields. Iran-backed militia groups and Syrian forces control the area and have often been the target of Israeli war planes in previous strikes.

US forces entered Syria in 2015, backing allied forces in their fight against the Islamic State group.

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