US claims to have carried out strikes in Syria against target linked to Iranian IRGC


The US military said it carried out airstrikes in Syria on Tuesday, targeting infrastructure used by groups linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The airstrikes, in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, were carried out under the direction of President Biden after US forces reported a drone attack on one of their remote outposts last week.

“Today’s strikes were necessary to protect and defend American personnel,” Col. Joe Buccino, director of communications for US Central Command, said in a statement. “The United States does not seek conflict, but will continue to take the necessary steps to protect and defend our people,” he added.

US reports drone strikes on Tanf base in Syria, no casualties

A small contingent of US forces are based in Syria and Iraq to support local troops in their fight against remnants of the Islamic State group. These operations have been affected in recent years by a growing wave of attacks by groups linked to Iran, officials from the US-led coalition Operation Inherent Resolve said.

No casualties or damage were reported in the August 15 attack on the Tanf outpost, a strategically located garrison near a border post between Syria and Iraq. The outpost sits near a major land supply route used by Iran to smuggle weapons into Syria and its Hezbollah allies.

The pace of attacks on US-led coalition troops in Iraq and Syria accelerated in 2019 as Tehran and the armed groups it backs sought to hasten Washington’s withdrawal from the region.

They increased dramatically the following year, after President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani as his convoy left Baghdad airport. The drone strike electrified tensions, prompting Iraqi lawmakers to call for the expulsion of US troops as Iran and the United States were on the brink of outright war.

In February 2021, US forces struck Iran-linked militias at a strategic border post between Iraq and Syria, which the Pentagon said was also a response to attacks on US personnel and its allies in Iraq. . There were new US retaliatory strikes against these militias in June 2021, in Syria and Iraq.

A spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve said around 30 indirect fire attacks have been recorded on their areas of operations in Syria and Iraq since the start of 2022.

“The pace of these incidents comes and goes because they are harassing in nature,” he said.

More worrying, according to coalition officials, have been periodic waves of drone attacks, particularly in Iraq. Some of the planes are rudimentary and seem capable of little damage. But others were big and filled with small bits of metal, like ball bearings.

The spokesman did not provide figures on the number of drone attacks, such as the one on August 15, targeting coalition forces over the past year.

Some of the attacks on the Tanf outpost have been attributed to Iran, including in October and June Russian planes struck a section of the base inhabited by Syrian opposition fighters – after giving U.S. forces half an hour’s notice.

Iran takes root in eastern Syria

Iran has recruited Syrians into allied militias in Deir al-Zour, providing services the deeply suspicious government cannot provide and entrenching itself in a strategic province that could further Tehran’s regional interests even after the end of the war. Syrian civil war and Iran’s support for President Bashar al-Assad is no longer so vital.

Buccino, the spokesman for US Central Command, said Tuesday’s precision strikes were a “proportionate and deliberate action” designed to limit the risk of escalation and casualties while achieving their goal of “disrupting or deterring attacks by Iranian-backed groups”.

Neither Syria nor Iran officially commented on Tuesday’s attack, but in a short article on the attack, Iran’s semi-official spokesman Mehr press agency called the move “provocative”, adding that “the strikes took place even as the United States sought to respond to a draft agreement proposed by the European Union” – a reference to the ongoing indirect talks between Washington and Tehran, aiming to salvage a nuclear deal with Iran from which Trump withdrew the United States in 2018.

Pannett reported from Sydney and Loveluck from Baghdad.

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