US military provides details on attacks in Syria; one American injured
The US military made its first public comment on Saturday after the latest round of Iranian-backed attacks targeted American forces in Syria.
Washington has been tightlipped in the aftermath of the reported second round of retaliatory airstrikes against targets inside Syria believed to be used by Iran-backed proxies, including Hezbollah.
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A main Syrian war monitoring group said US strikes killed at least 19 fighters over the last 48 hours.
On Saturday, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) said three attacks targeted US and Coalition forces in Syria on the evening March 24th and March 25th.
The first attack involved four one-way attack unmanned aerial vehicles that targeted Green Village. Two of the four drones were destroyed by coalition air defense systems, CENTCOM Spokesman Col. Joe Buccino told Al Arabiya English. One drone hit a building, resulting in no injuries, and one did not explode. The next attack, nearly five minutes later, saw multiple rockets target coalition forces at the Mission Support Site Conoco. One US service member was injured and remains in stable condition. The third attack came a little over three hours later when a one-way attack drone targeted Green Village, but no injuries or damage were reported.
“US forces remain in Syria as part of a Global Coalition solely focused on the enduring defeat of ISIS,” Buccino said.
No further details were provided about the US airstrikes or response to the attacks.
Friday’s attacks came in the midst of a string of tit-for-tat exchanges following an attack on US forces the day before, which killed an American contractor and wounded five US service members and another US contractor.
The US has not provided additional information about its operation other than to say it was conducted in eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). “These precision strikes are intended to protect and defend US personnel. The United States took proportionate and deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize casualties,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said afterward.
“No group will strike our troops with impunity,” Austin warned. President Joe Biden vowed to respond “forcefully” in order to protect American lives, but insisted that the US did not seek conflict with Iran.
On Saturday, Iranian media quoted officials as threatening to respond to any American strikes by targeting US bases in Syria.
Earlier in the week, CENTCOM chief Gen. Erik Kurilla revealed that his forces had come under Iranian attack 78 times since January 2021.
Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, Gen. Kurilla said Tehran hides its hand in these attacks by using Iranian proxies - “that’s either UAVs or rockets to be able to attack our forces in Iraq or Syria.” Asked if these were considered acts of war, Gen. Kurilla responded: “They are being done by the Iranian proxies.”
But the US has only responded three times, according to CENTCOM.
American forces suffered 78 Iranian attacks since 2021: US general