The US base at Tanf in eastern Syria on the Iraq border (File)

“Eight American and Israeli officials” say Iran attacked the main US base in Syria last month, retaliating for Israel’s airstrikes on Iranian, Assad regime, and Hezbollah targets inside the country.

The “suicide” drones were launched at the al-Tanf base, in eastern Syria on the Iraq border, on October 20. Two detonated on impact. There were no casualties, but there was material damage.

A “senior US military official” said that, despite the lack of injuries, there was a “clear intent to kill” with ball bearings and shrapnel. Most of the 200 US troops had been evacuated hours earlier after being a tip from Israeli intelligence.

Because three drones did not explode, US specialists could determine that they used the same technology in drones launched by Iran-backed militias in Iraq.

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US officials concluded that Iran directed and supplied proxy forces who attacked the Tanf base. A Pentagon spokesman declined to make a public accusation, in part to avoid upsetting the resumption of nuclear talks in Vienna on November 29.

Iranian State outlets have hailed the attack, although the regime has not claimed any role. Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said last week:

There have been a number of these incidents where they accused Iran without any proof or documents. Countries that have established military bases in Syria without the invitation of Syria’s central government, continue policies of terrorism and support terrorist countries are the real root of instability in the region and in Syria.

On a Telegram channel, affiliates of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the strike was a response to the US allowing Israeli attacks on Iran-supported militia in eastern Syria. They claimed that militia commanders had concluded they “must pull the teeth of the snake”.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes inside Syria since the country’s uprising began in March 2011. Governments under Benjamin Netanyahu and, since June, Naftali Bennett have targeted Iranian weapons transfers to Lebanese ally Hezbollah, pressed for Iran’s military withdrawal after Tehran propped up the Assad regime, and sought to prevent Tehran and Hezbollah establishing a military presence near the Golan.

The attacks have escalated with strikes on Iranian-backed militia in eastern Syria as well as on bases and depots near Damascus, Homs, and Tartous.

Israel has attacked four times in the past 19 days, and seven times in the past six weeks.