Attacks on Iran-linked targets in Syria will draw prompt response, Tehran warns

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Airstrikes on Iranian-linked bases in Syria would draw a quick response, an Iranian security spokesperson said on Saturday, after the reported death of 19 people in one of the deadliest exchanges between the US and Iranian-aligned forces in years.

“Any pretext to attack bases created at the request of the Syrian government to deal with terrorism and ISIS elements in this country will be met with an immediate counter-response,” Keyvan Khosravi, spokesperson for Iran’s top security body, was quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency Nournews.

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Iran says its forces and allied fighters are in Syria at the request of Damascus, and sees US forces as occupiers.

The death toll in US airstrikes on pro-Iran installations in eastern Syria has risen to 19 fighters, a Syrian war monitoring group said on Saturday.

The US carried out strikes in eastern Syria in response to a drone attack on Thursday that left one American contractor dead and another wounded along with five US troops. Washington said the attack was of Iranian origin.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air raids killed three Syrian troops, 11 Syrian fighters in pro-government militias and five non-Syrian fighters who were aligned with the government.

The monitor’s head Rami Abdel Rahman could not specify the nationalities of the foreigners. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the toll.

The initial exchange prompted a string of tit-for-tat strikes. Another US service member was wounded, according to officials, and local sources said suspected US rocket fire hit more locations in eastern Syria.

President Joe Biden on Friday warned Iran that the United States would “act forcefully” to protect Americans.

Iran has been a major backer of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria’s 12-year conflict.

Iran’s proxy militias, including Lebanese group Hezbollah and pro-Tehran Iraqi groups, hold sway in swathes of eastern, southern and northern Syria and in suburbs around the capital.

Tehran’s growing entrenchment in Syria has drawn regular Israeli airstrikes but American aerial raids are more rare. The US has been raising the alarm about Iran’s drone program.

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Pro-Iranian forces in Syria warn they can respond to further US strikes

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