U.S. drone hits truck in Syria used by Iran-backed militia

BAGHDAD – A U.S. drone attack targeted an Iranian-backed militia truck in eastern Syria on Sunday, destroying the vehicle with no casualties, two Iraqi militia officials said.

The attack came amid growing tensions in the region between the US military and Iranian-backed Iraqi militias in recent weeks. The Americans have targeted militants who used drones and rockets to strike bases housing American troops.

Iraqi militia officials declined to say what the truck was carrying. They said the US drone fired a warning shot first, after which the driver jumped and a missile hit the vehicle shortly after. They said the truck belonged to Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, who is active along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

There was no immediate comment from the US military.

Syrian state television reported the attack, saying it was carried out by US drones. He said the truck was carrying food and there were no casualties.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-Syrian opposition organization with uncertain funding, said the truck was carrying weapons and ammunition for an Iraqi militia and was hit shortly after after crossing the Iraqi border. He claimed the driver was killed.

The group has regularly been accused by Syrian war analysts of inflating the death toll, as well as making them up in bulk.

On June 27, US Air Force planes carried out airstrikes near the Iraqi-Syrian border against what the Pentagon said were facilities used by Iranian-backed militias to support drone strikes in Iraq. Four militiamen were killed.

Days later, Kataib commander Sayyid al-Shuhada vowed to retaliate and since then several rocket attacks have been reported against bases housing US troops in Syria and Iraq.

Hundreds of American troops are deployed in eastern Syria in the war against the Islamic State group. Thousands of Iranian-backed fighters are deployed to different parts of Syria to aid President Bashar Assad’s forces in the 10-year conflict that has claimed half a million lives.

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