US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated the “precision strikes” targeted a training facility near the city of Albu Kamal and a safe house near the city of Mayadeen, in response to continued attacks against US troops in Syria and Iraq.
“The President has no higher priority than the safety of US personnel, and he directed today’s action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests,” Austin said in a statement on Sunday.
Citing an unnamed local source, the Reuters news agency reported the US strikes targeted a camp run by pro-Iranian armed groups in an area west of Albu Kamal, in Deir al Zor province. The other strike was near a bridge close to the city of Mayadeen, which is near the Iraqi border and is a stronghold of pro-Iranian armed groups, it added.
The Associated Press news agency added one of the sites also included weapons storage, citing a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of a military operation.
The US strike is the third in just over two weeks as Washington attempts to put an end to drone and rocket attacks against its forces in Syria and Iraq that began when the Israel-Hamas war started a month ago.
US and coalition troops have been attacked at least 40 times in Iraq and Syria by armed groups in recent weeks. About 56 troops have been injured in the attacks in Syria and Iraq, but all have returned to duty, according to the Pentagon.
Washington is concerned that the Israel-Hamas conflict could spread through the Middle East and leave US troops at isolated bases exposed.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has rejected that Tehran had instructed armed groups in Iraq and Syria to launch missile and drone strikes on American troops stationed in the illegal bases in West Asia, insisting that they were acting on their own. Tehran and its supporters say Washington shares responsibility for Israel’s declared war against the Palestinian armed group Hamas.
The US military has stationed forces and equipment in northeastern Syria for years. Damascus maintains the illegal deployment is meant to plunder Syria’s rich mineral resources and to destabilize the country.