Recent weeks in Syria have witnessed an escalation of violence between U.S. forces and militias backed by Iran. According to the opposition website Baladi News, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has stated that two positions of its forces in the fields of Omar and Kuniko, located in Deir-ez-Zor, were hit by rocket attacks on Wednesday evening. In a statement, CENTCOM said that it responded to the attacks using a helicopter, destroying three cars and equipment used to launch missiles.
The statement added that preliminary assessments indicate that two or three suspected Iranian-backed militants were killed as a result of the U.S. response, while a US soldier suffered minor injuries. The status of two other soldiers, who suffered minor injuries, is also being assessed.
The attacks began around 7:20 p.m. local time in Syria when several rockets landed inside the vicinity of the Coneco site. Soon afterwards, other rockets landed near the al-Omar field.
The statement stressed that the American response had been proportionate and focused, adding that the United States does not seek conflict with Iran. The United States will, however, continue to take necessary measures to protect and defend its people.
According to the spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command, Colonel Joe Puccino, the strike targeted nine ammunition depots in Deir-ez-Zor belonging to Iranian-backed groups.
Puccino told al-Hurra that the original goal was to destroy 11 ammunition depots, but the attack on two of them was cancelled after it was observed that people were moving close to their position. This came to ensure that no civilians were killed.
A week ago, the al-Tanf base in Syria was attacked by “drones.” This attack is the second of its kind since October 2021.
According to the opposition website Syria TV, the Iranian Foreign Ministry denied its relationship with the sites targeted by the United States of America, on Tuesday evening, in Deir-ez-Zor, eastern Syria.
On Wednesday, the foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kinani described what he called the U.S. military’s “new aggression” as an “act of terrorism.” He noted that it targeted “popular groups” (without specifying them) and denied that these groups were linked to Iran.
He considered, according to the Iranian Tasnim news agency, that the U.S. targeting is a violation of Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. He said that “the presence of U.S. forces in parts of Syria is contrary to international laws and violates national sovereignty. It is considered an occupation.”
Kinani called on U.S. forces to “leave Syria immediately and stop plundering the country’s oil and grain wealth.” He added that the claim to fight terrorism is “just an excuse for the continuation of the occupation.”
Similary, the Kurdish agency North Press reported that two members of Iranian-backed Quds Force were killed and three others were injured in an armed attack against their military patrol in the town of al-Sukhna, east of Homs in central Syria.
“Unknown militants in SUV cars targeted a military patrol of the Force on the road close to al-Sukhna,” a military source from the Quds Force said. The source, who preferred not to be named, added to North Press that the attack resulted in the deaths of two members of the Quds Force and the injury of three others who were transferred to the Military Hospital in al-Wa’er in Homs. Their injuries were critical according to a doctor in the hospital.
In parallel, North Press has also claimed that the relative reduction in Russian troops south of Syria since May has paved the way for pro-Iranian militias to deploy there.
The agency said that the Syrian Air Forces Intelligence are the most loyal forces to Iran in the area. It is greatly deployed in Daraa and specifically in the eastern countryside extending from Nasib/Jaber border crossing with Jordan and along Syrian-Jordanian border, according to activists in the region. Activists in Daraa told North Press Russian troops withdrew in mid-May from a military base nearby the village of Muthabin in the northern countryside of Daraa that was set up in 2017 and was one of the most important military bases in the south.
They said, “The base in Izraa was a starting point for Russian patrols in the countryside of Daraa.”
Earlier, Russian troops withdrew from the White Rose Hotel in the city center of Daraa and kept just their guards there.
The Russian withdrawal was met with new deployments of military groups “known for their affiliation with Iran”, such as the 4th Armored Division and the Air Forces intelligence, according to activists.
People accuse militias affiliated with Iran, most notably the Air Forces Intelligence, of carrying out murders and arrests of former leaders in the opposition.