Just over a week after several rockets hit near a military base in northeastern Syria housing US troops, Vice President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes against Iranian-backed groups on Tuesday.
In a statement, US Central Command explained that the US military had conducted airstrikes in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, against Iranian-backed groups. Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for CENTCOM, said in a statement that the strikes were directed at “infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”
“Today, US military forces were directed by Vice President Biden to launch pinpoint airstrikes in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor. These targeted strikes are meant to prevent further attacks like the one on August 15 against American personnel by Iranian-backed groups “He was speaking about the assault on the Green Village base in Iraqi territory last week. No property was damaged and no one was hurt in that attack.
Specifically, the statement claims that “under his Article II authority to protect and defend US personnel by disrupting or deterring attacks by Iran-backed groups,” Biden “gave the direction for these strikes.”
According to Buccino’s report on CNN, the United States attacked a network of bunkers in Syria that were being used by groups supported by Iran to store weapons and provide logistics. Buccino claimed that for more than 400 hours, the United States military kept a close eye on a total of 13 bunkers in the same complex.
Buccino said the United States was unsure if the other two bunkers were empty, so the strike only targeted 11 of the bunkers. There was a small group of people in the area, so the military waved off two more bunkers just before CENTCOM carried out the strike. Ultimately, Buccino claimed, military forces attacked nine bunkers in the complex in eastern Syria.
Buccino said the strike was meant to destroy the bunkers and that preliminary reports indicate no casualties. In response to attacks on US forces and equipment on August 15, Gen. Erik Kurilla, head of US Central Command, stated that the strike in eastern Syria was a demonstration of US resolve to defend US forces and equipment.
The bunkers were bombed in retaliation for an attack on August 15, but according to Buccino, the bunkers were not used by Iranian-backed militias in that attack.
One official has said that there are only a “small number” of coalition forces, including U.S. service members, stationed at the base that was attacked earlier this month. U.S.-led coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces personnel were able to recover several of the failed rockets. Last week, multiple drones were repelled in an attack near the At-Tanf base in southern Syria.
The coalition has not yet identified the groups responsible for last week’s attacks. US troops in Syria and Iraq have been a frequent target of militias supported by Iran.
At the end of January, the United States military launched strikes in Syria in response to what was described as “an imminent threat” by a US-led coalition official to troops in the area of Green Village from indirect fire.
The majority of the roughly 900 US troops in Syria are stationed in either the At-Tanf base or the eastern oil fields.