Tehran blasts US for retaliatory strikes on Iranian-backed forces in Syria
TEHRAN, Iran – Tehran condemned US airstrikes on Iranian-linked forces in Syria that killed 19 people, Washington said, following a deadly drone attack on US forces.
Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned late Saturday the “warlike and terrorist attack of the American army on civilian targets” in the eastern Syrian region of Deir Ezzor.
Washington said it launched the retaliatory raids after a US contractor was killed – and another contractor and five military personnel were injured – by a drone “of Iranian origin” that struck a US-led coalition base in Syria on Thursday.
The war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 19 people, most of them Syrians, were killed in the following strikes in the United States launched early Friday morning.
The US strikes prompted further rocket attacks by Iranian-backed militias, the Observatory said.
The Syrian government, which is closely allied with Iran, has accused the United States of lying under the targets of its airstrikes to justify an “aggressive act”.
The United States has about 900 troops in positions across northeastern Syria to keep pressure on remnants of the Islamic State group and support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which control most of the northeast.
US personnel in Syria have often been targeted in attacks by militia groups that Washington says are backed by Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said the presence of US troops was “illegal” and a “violation of international law and national sovereignty” of Syria.
In contrast, Kanani said that the Iranian forces in Syria were at the behest of Damascus.
“Military advisers of the Islamic Republic of Iran are present in Syria at the request of the Syrian government,” he said, adding that they will continue to support Damascus to “establish lasting peace, stability and security.”