The US base at Tanf in eastern Syria on the Iraq border (File)
UPDATE 1209 GMT:
Iran-backed militias launched rocket and drone attacks on two US bases on Friday morning.
US officials said one service member was wounded just after 8 a.m. One rocket struck a civilian house almost 5 km (3 miles) from the nearest base, causing minor injuries to two women and two children.
The attacks followed US retaliatory airstrikes over the militias’ killing of an American contractors and wounding of five US troops and other contractors.
Unconfirmed claims said 11 Iranian-backed fighters – six at an arms depot in in Deir ez-Zor city and five at military posts near the towns of al-Mayadeen and al-Boukamal — were killed.
US President Joe Biden, at a news conference in Canada, said yesterday:
Make no mistake, the United States does not, does not, I emphasize, seek conflict with Iran. But be prepared for us to act forcefully to protect our people. That’s exactly what happened last [Thursday] night.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: US warplanes have struck an Iran-backed militia in northeast Syria, after an Iranian-made drone killed a contractor and wounded five troops and another contractor in an attack on an American base.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Central Command forces retaliated with “precision airstrikes” against facilities used by the groups supported by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Austin said the retaliation was ordered by President Joe Biden, who “has made clear [that] we will take all necessary measures to defend our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing”.
Videos on social media claimed to show explosions in Deir ez-Zor Province near the Iraq border, where Iran-backed militias have operated for more than a decade during the Syrian uprising.
Unconfirmed claims said eight fighters were killed by the airstrikes, on a weapons depot in Deir ez-Zor city and on positions near al-Mayadin and al-Boukamal.
Iran State media insisted, from supposed “local sources”, that the US targeted a “rural development center and a grain center” near the Deir ez-Zor military airport. They declared that “no Iranian was killed”.
The Iran-backed militias have fired almost 80 times on US troops since the beginning of 2021, according to Central Command head Gen. Erik Kurilla. The Biden Administration has carried out three previous sets of American airstrikes.
Israel has also carried out strikes in the area against Iranian-supported positions and supply routes. Russia — breaking a deconfliction agreement with the US — has stepped up overflights.