Last Updated on August 24, 2022
President Biden ordered airstrikes against Iran-backed militias operating out of Eastern Syria on Tuesday. The strikes were ordered after rockets fired by the groups landed close to a military base in Northeastern Syria that houses U.S. troops.
Rockets landed not far from the Green Village base located close to the Iraqi border. The incident did not result in any damage or injuries, Pentagon officials confirmed.
The airstrikes targeted militia groups in the Deir ez-Zor province of Syria, U.S. Central Command announced in a statement. The strikes targeted “infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” said Colonel Joe Buccino, a spokesman for CENTCOM.
“At President Biden’s direction, US military forces conducted precision airstrikes in Deir ez-Zor Syria today. 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,” Buccino said.
Iran has denied any affiliation with the targeted groups in a statement delivered by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani. “The US attack on Syrian infrastructure and people is a violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement said.
Quoting a “senior administration official,” CNN reported that Biden asked to be briefed on options early last week in the immediate aftermath of the strikes. On Monday, Biden was briefed on the options by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and he ordered the strike after that briefing, the official said.
According to an initial assessment, nobody was killed as a result of the U.S. strikes, Buccino said. Independent activist groups have claimed that up to 10 people were killed, however.
Local activist group DeirEzzor24 said at least ten people were killed, and three others were wounded. The group claimed that those who were killed and wounded were “foreigners” and members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least six Syrian and foreign militants were killed as a result of the airstrikes.
Both groups reported that the strikes targeted the Ayyash Camp, which is run by Shia fighters from Afghanistan. Iran provides funding to a number of Shia militia groups in the region.
Buccino told CNN the US targeted a group of bunkers used for ammunition storage and logistics support by Iranian-backed groups in Syria. The US military monitored a total of 13 bunkers in the same complex extensively, Buccino said, totaling more than 400 hours of surveillance.
Targeted bunkers were believed to be empty, but the Pentagon can not confirm whether two of the bunkers were empty at the time of the strikes. Attacks on at least two bunkers were waved off after people were detected nearby, Buccino told CNN.
A total of nine bunkers were struck in total, he added.
In January, the US military conducted strikes in Syria after indirect fire posed what a US-led coalition official called “an imminent threat” to troops near Green Village.
The U.S. currently maintains close to 900 troops in Syria. The force is largely split between the Al-Tanf base near the Jordanian border and the country’s Eastern oil fields.