The U.S. military said early Wednesday that it carried out airstrikes in eastern Syria on areas where militias backed by Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard operate.
There was no immediate acknowledgment by Syria’s state-run media of the strikes hitting Deir Ez-Zor. Iran also did not acknowledge the attack.
Opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and activist collective Deir Ezzor 24 said the airstrikes targeted the Ayash Camp run by the Fatimiyoun group made up of Shiite fighters from Afghanistan. The war monitor reported that at least six Syrian and foreign militants were killed in the airstrikes.
The U.S. military’s Central Command said the strikes “took proportionate, deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize the risk of casualties.” It did not identify the targets, nor offer any casualty figures from the strikes, which the military said came at the orders of President Biden.
“Today’s strikes were necessary to protect and defend U.S. personnel,” Central Command spokesman Col. Joe Buccino said in a statement.
The colonel added that the attack was in response to an Aug. 15 attack targeting U.S. forces. That attack saw drones allegedly launched by Iranian-backed militias target the al-Tanf Garrison used by American forces. U.S. Central Command described the assault as causing “zero casualties and no damage” at the time.
Deir Ez-Zor is a strategic province that borders Iraq and contains oil fields. Iran-backed militia groups and Syrian forces control the area and have often been the target of Israeli warplanes in previous strikes.
U.S. forces entered Syria in 2015, backing allied forces in their fight against Islamic State.