US military conducts strike in Syria on Iran-linked targets

WASHINGTON, Aug 23 (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on Tuesday it carried out airstrikes in Syria’s Deir al-Zor against facilities used by groups affiliated with the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The strikes came even as the United States sought to respond to a European Union-proposed draft deal that would bring back the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that former President Donald Trump scrapped and that current President Joe Biden has sought to revive.

The army’s central command said in a statement that the strikes were aimed at protecting US forces from attacks by Iran-backed groups.

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He cited one such incident on Aug. 15, which Reuters said involved a drone attack on a coalition-run compound and US-backed Syrian opposition fighters, with no casualties.

“The president gave the direction for these strikes,” spokesman Col. Joe Buccino said.

Central Command called the strikes a “proportionate and deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize the risk of casualties”.

The statement on Tuesday’s US strike did not mention whether there were any casualties and did not specify whether the airstrikes were carried out by manned or unmanned aircraft.

This is not the first time that US warplanes have struck Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria. The United States struck operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one in Iraq in June last year.

US forces first deployed to Syria during the Obama administration’s campaign against Islamic State, partnering with a Kurdish-led group called the Syrian Democratic Forces. There are about 900 US troops in Syria, mostly in the east.

But Iran-backed militias have gained a foothold in Syria while fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria’s civil war.

Iran-backed militias are heavily concentrated west of the Euphrates in Deir al-Zor province, where they get supplies from Iraq via the al-Bukamal border crossing.

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Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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