US Troops Injured in Syria Rocket Attacks

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
August 25, 2022Middle East
US Troops Injured in Syria Rocket Attacks
A U.S. military vehicle drives through the Syrian village of Baghuz in the countryside of the eastern Deir Ezzor Province on Jan. 26, 2019. (Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)

Three U.S service members have been injured amid rocket attacks at two sites in Syria conducted by suspected Iran-backed militants, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced on Aug. 24.

It added that U.S. forces subsequently responded with attack helicopters.

The announcement after CENTCOM on Aug. 23 confirmed that U.S. forces had conducted targeted airstrikes on Iran-backed militia in order to protect U.S. forces in Syria. CENTCOM is one of the 11 unified combatant commands of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Just hours after the U.S. strikes on Aug. 23, two U.S. military locations in northeastern Syria near large oil and gas fields were hit with rocket fire. The U.S. CENTCOM said that starting at about 7:20 p.m. local time, “several rockets” hit near Green Village and the Conoco gas field in Deir el-Zour.

Deir el-Zour is a strategic province that borders Iraq and contains oil fields. Iran-backed militia groups and Syrian forces control the area and have often been the target of Israeli warplanes in previous strikes.

“One U.S. service member in Mission Support Site Conoco was treated for a minor injury and has been returned to duty. Two others are under evaluation for minor injuries,” announced CENTCOM on Aug. 24.

Attack Helicopters

According to CENTCOM, U.S. forces used attack helicopters on Aug. 24 to respond to the Syria rocket attacks.

“The response was proportional and deliberate. The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we will continue to take the measures necessary to protect and defend our people,” the announcement reads.

It said that the U.S. forces destroyed “three vehicles and equipment used to launch some of the rockets.”

“Initial assessments indicate that two or three suspected Iran-backed militants conducting one of the attacks were killed during the U.S. response.”

The opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and news platform Deir Ezzor 24, reported that the U.S. airstrikes targeted the Ayash Camp run by the Fatimiyoun group made up of Shiite fighters from Afghanistan. The war monitor reported that at least six Syrian and foreign militants were killed in the airstrikes, while Deir Ezzor 24 reported 10 deaths.

Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM, said in a statement: “We are closely monitoring the situation. We have a total spectrum of capability to mitigate threats across the region, and we have every confidence in our ability to protect our troops and Coalition partners from attacks.”

US Airstrikes on Aug. 23

Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, told reporters that the U.S. airstrikes on Aug. 23, aimed at infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), showed that “the United States will not hesitate to defend itself against Iranian and Iran-backed aggression when it occurs.”

He said at a press briefing: “The strike was necessary to protect and defend U.S. personnel in Syria, which had been the targets of several recent attacks by Iran-backed militia groups, including the most recent ones on August 15.”

In the Aug. 15 attack, drones allegedly launched by Iranian-backed militias targeted the al-Tanf Garrison, where U.S. troops are based in southeast Syria. CENTCOM described the assault as causing “zero casualties and no damage” at the time.

Kalh noted on Aug. 23 that the U.S. strikes overnight reflect the United States’ commitment to “push back against Iran’s support for terrorism, militancy, and the threats that they engage in against our people in the region or elsewhere,” and “are not linked to wherever we end up on the nuclear deal,” referring to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Whether the JCPOA is reborn or not, it actually has nothing to do with our willingness and resolve to defend ourselves. And I think the strike last night was a pretty clear communication to the Iranians, that these things are on different tracks,” he said. He noted that the Biden administration has made it “pretty clear” that if Iran complies with the JCPOA, “that’s in our interest, because it pushes Iran further away from a nuclear weapons capability.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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