US confirms strikes on ‘Iran-backed groups’

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The Pentagon said it bombed militants linked to Tehran in order to ‘protect US forces’ in Syria

The US military has launched multiple airstrikes on targets in eastern Syria, claiming it struck sites used by Iran-backed fighters while suggesting they may have been behind a drone attack on an American base earlier this month.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced the operation in a statement on Tuesday night, saying US forces carried out an unspecified number of “precision airstrikes” in Deir ez-Zor, Syria earlier in the day.

“The US strikes targeted infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” the command said, adding “These precision strikes are intended to defend and protect US forces from attacks like the ones on August 15 against US personnel by Iran-backed groups.”

Statement Regarding Precision Strikes in Syriahttps://t.co/ED69Xq0tm3 pic.twitter.com/hpWw1NNMNV

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) August 24, 2022

The statement did not identify any of the targets in the strike or offer a casualty estimate.

According to the military, the August 15 incident cited by CENTCOM saw multiple unidentified drones descend upon the US outpost in al-Tanf, a remote garrison far in southern Syria near the three-way border with Jordan and Iraq. The drones caused no casualties, but a senior US commander nonetheless stated the attack “put the lives of innocent Syrian civilians at risk.” Before suggesting “Iran-backed groups” were behind the drones on Tuesday, Washington had not pinned blame on any actor.

Today al-Tanf Garrison a partnered military base in southern Syria, defended against three One Way Attack Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that attempted to penetrate the base. None of the UAVs were successful and the attack resulted in no casualties or damage. pic.twitter.com/mCQ5xvE0fg

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) August 15, 2022

While CENTCOM reiterated that US forces remain in Syria to “ensure the enduring defeat” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and do not “seek conflict,” the Syrian government has repeatedly denounced the American presence and demanded that US troops vacate the country. In addition to the base in al-Tanf, Americans have long embedded with Kurdish fighters based in Syria’s northeast, first deployed as advisers under President Barack Obama.

As of Tuesday night, neither Damascus or Tehran have yet responded to the latest US operation.

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