U.S. airstrikes hit Iran-backed militia infrastructure in Syria, U.S. says
The United States carried out airstrikes in eastern Syria Tuesday targeting facilities used by Iranian-backed militias, a U.S. military spokesman said.
The strikes in oil-rich Deir Ezzor province, which were ordered by President Biden, “targeted infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” U.S. Central Command (Centcom) spokesman Colonel Joe Buccino said in a statement.
Buccino said the “precision strikes are intended to defend and protect U.S. forces from attacks like the ones on August 15 against U.S. personnel by Iran-backed groups,” when a number of drones targeted an outpost of U.S.-led anti-jihadist forces without causing any casualties.
But Iran’s foreign ministry denied any link with the groups targeted by the U.S. strikes.
A ministry statement strongly condemned the “terrorist act” by the United States, saying it represents a “violation of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.”
Tuesday’s strikes hit nine bunkers in a complex used for ammunition storage and logistics, the Centcom colonel told CNN separately.
The U.S. military had originally intended to hit 11 of 13 bunkers in the complex but called off strikes on two after groups of people were seen near them, he said, adding that an initial assessment indicated no one had been killed.
But The Associated Press reports that an opposition war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said at least six Syrian and foreign militants were killed. According to the AP, That group and and activist collective Deir Ezzor 24 said the U.S. strikes targeted the Ayash Camp run by the Fatimiyoun group, which has Shiite fighters from Afghanistan.
U.S. forces “took proportionate, deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize the risk of casualties,” the colonel said in the Centcom statement.
Hundreds of American troops are deployed in Syria’s northeast as part of a coalition focused on fighting ISIS remnants.
There was no immediate word of the U.S. strikes from Syrian state media.
The attack came the same day that Iranian state media said a Revolutionary Guard general “who was on a mission in Syria as a military adviser” had been killed Sunday.
The reports didn’t say how the general was killed, only describing him as a “defender of the sanctuary,” a term used for those who work on behalf of Iran in Syria or Iraq.
Iran says it has deployed its forces in Syria at the invitation of Damascus and only as advisers.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is the ideological arm of the Iranian military and is blacklisted as a terrorist group by the U.S.
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