The US base at Tanf in eastern Syria on the Iraq border
UPDATE 0837 GMT:
The US and Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria exchanged fire again on Wednesday.
One US soldier suffered a minor injury and two others are being evaluated following the latest rocket attacks by the militias.
US Central Command said the militias fired rocket attacks at two sites in Syria. US helicopters then hit the Iran-supported positions, with initial assessments indicating two to three fighters were killed.
ORIGINAL ENTRY, AUG 24: The US has carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in Deir ez-Zor Province in eastern Syria.
The militias have been firing rockets on American positions, including the Tanf base. US Central Command spokesperson Col. Joe Buccino said on Wednesday: “Today’s strikes were necessary to protect and defend US personnel,” citing a militia attack on August 15.
Buccino said the strikes, ordered by President Joe Biden, were “proportionate, deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimise the risk of casualties”. He did not identify specific targets or give casualty figures.
Unconfirmed reports said the airstrikes targeted the Ayash Camp of the Fatimiyoun group of Afghan fighters. Claims are circulating that at least six Syrian and foreigners were killed.
The militias have been vital in Iran’s propping up of the Assad regime during the Syrian conflict. As Syria has settled into a de facto partition — Assad-controlled territory, the opposition-held northwest, and the Kurdish-held northeast — the Iranian-backed forces have focused more on the American presence.
The US sent in regular forces in 2015 to assist the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against the Islamic State. ISIS lost its last village in March 2019, but the Americans have remained in support of the Kurdish area.