Second attack on US military in Syria following Pentagon’s airstrikes


The US military suffered a rocket attack on a compound in Syria on Friday following the airstrikes launched by Washington on Thursday in the war-torn country. The US strikes came in response to a drone attack “of Iranian origin” that killed one US contractor.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement that 10 rockets targeted coalition forces at the Green Village compound in northeastern Syria at approximately 8:05 local time (2:05 a.m. ET). No US or coalition personnel were injured. One rocket hit nearly 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the base and injured civilians, according to CENTCOM.

The Associated Press also reported that one US service member was injured in another rocket attack on a Conoco energy plant in northeastern Syria.

The rocket attacks came less than 12 hours after US President Joe Biden authorized airstrikes in Syria after a US contractor was killed in a drone attack in Syria.

The standoff began when an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) struck a maintenance facility used by the US-led coalition near the northeastern city of Hasakah at around 1:38 pm local time (6:38 am ET) on Thursday. Five US service members and another US contractor were injured in addition to the US contractor who was killed, according to the Pentagon.

“The intelligence community believes the UAV is of Iranian origin,” they said in a statement.

In response to the drone attack, CENTCOM forces conducted airstrikes in eastern Syria against what they said were “facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).”

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the airstrikes were in response to Thursday’s drone attack as well as other recent attacks against coalition forces in Syria “by groups affiliated with the IRGC.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that US airstrikes targeted Iranian-backed militia positions in the following areas in eastern Syria, killing at least 11:

  • ammunition warehouse in the city of Deir ez-Zor, killing six people
  • the Desert al-Bukamal, killing three people
  • southern edge of al-Mayadin, killing two

The death toll could rise, according to the UK-based war monitor. A CENTCOM official confirmed to Al-Monitor that US airstrikes hit Iranian-backed militia targets in Deir ez-Zor.

Iran’s state television press said no Iranians were killed in the US attack. Non-Iranians, such as Afghans, sometimes serve in Iranian-backed militias in Syria. The outlet also reported that “resistance” groups will respond to the strikes.

The Syrian government did not immediately comment.

Biden addressed the incidents during a press conference in Canada on Friday.

“The United States does not, does not stress, seek conflict with Iran. But be ready for us to act forcefully to protect our people,” he said.

Background: The US army is in northeastern Syria as part of the international coalition to fight the Islamic State (IS). They support Kurdish-led forces in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) there. The US military also has a base in al-Tanf in southern Syria near the borders with Jordan and Iraq where they support the Free Syrian Army militia. Although the war against IS has ended, the US presence in Syria is of strategic importance, especially to counter Iran.

Iranian forces and allied forces are in Syria to support the government of President Bashar al-Assad in his war against rebel groups. Iranian forces sometimes attack the US army in Syria. In August, the US military struck Iranian targets in Syria after a drone attack on al-Tanf. There was also a drone attack on al-Tanf in January. The US military did not take responsibility for the January attack but blamed past incidents on Iranian-backed forces.

More information: Austin and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave the Gen. Mark Milley testified before Congress earlier Thursday. During the testimony, Milley said that the US military has developed “multiple options” in the event that Iran develops a nuclear weapon.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include information on another rocket attack on US coalition forces in Syria.

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