US strikes Iran-backed groups’ facilities in Syria after base attacks


The US says it has carried out air strikes on facilities in eastern Syria used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC).

Nine ammunition and storage bunkers in Deir al-Zour province were hit, US military officials said.

A monitoring group said six fighters guarding the bunkers were killed.

President Joe Biden ordered the strikes “to defend and protect US forces” in Syria following several attacks on them blamed on Iran-backed groups.

On 15 August, two drones attacked the al-Tanf Garrison, in the southern desert, and rockets landed near the Green Village base in Deir al-Zour. Neither attack caused any casualties.

About 1,000 US troops are operating out of the two bases along with Syrian opposition and Kurdish-led militia fighters as part of a mission to combat the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

The US strikes took place early on Wednesday and were conducted by two F-15 and two F-16 jets, military officials told US media.

The plan had been to hit 11 bunkers, but the jets did not drop bombs on two of them because people were seen walking nearby, they added.

“The United States took proportionate, deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimise the risk of casualties,” US Central Command spokesman Col Joe Buccino said in a statement.

“The United States does not seek conflict, but will continue to take necessary measures to protect and defend our people,” he added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the jets targeted warehouses in Ayyash, a town on the River Euphrates about 10km (6 miles) north of Deir al-Zour city, and a camp belonging to the Fatemiyoun Brigade, an Iran-backed militia made up largely of Shia Muslim Afghan fighters that has supported the Syrian army in the country’s civil war.

The UK-based monitoring group posted video footage of a large explosion in Ayyash and cited sources as saying that the strikes killed six Syrian and non-Syrian guards and wounded several Iran-backed militiamen.

The strikes come a day after Iranian state media reported that an IRGC general had been killed while “on a mission” in Syria.

They said Abolfazl Alijani, a member of the IRGC’s Ground Force, was working as a military adviser but gave no details about the circumstances of his death.

The IRGC has built a substantial presence in Syria since the civil war started in 2011, sending hundreds of troops to advise President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and train pro-government militias with thousands of fighters.

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