Iraqi Militia Claims Responsibility for Attack on US Syria Base Which Sparked Deadly Strikes
19:16 GMT 26.03.2023 (Updated: 19:23 GMT 26.03.2023)
© AP Photo / Baderkhan AhmadIn this Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 file photo, U.S. forces patrol Syrian oil fields, in eastern Syria.President Donald Trump's decision to dispatch new U.S. forces to eastern Syria to secure oil fields is being criticized by some experts as ill-defined and ambiguous.
© AP Photo / Baderkhan Ahmad
US forces in Syria were hit in back-to-back drone and rocket attacks on Thursday and Friday, with the strikes killing a contractor and injuring up to six US service members. The first attack prompted US retaliatory strikes against so-called 'Iran-backed facilities' which turned out to be a rural development center and grain building.
An Iraqi militia group operating in Syria known as the Al-Ghaliboun Brigade (lit. ‘The Conquerors’ Brigade) has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s deadly drone attack on a US base, issuing a statement saying that the operation was a response to US “brutal and terrorist crimes” in Iraq and across the Middle East.
"Our operation and other operations that will follow, God willing, come in the context of the natural and legitimate response to the crime of targeting the leaders of Victory and their comrades, in addition to the brutal and terrorist crimes committed by the American occupation forces in our country and our region. The leadership of the al-Ghaliboun Brigade is determined to carry out more precision operations against American occupation forces using weapons which are constantly evolving, and the Americans will not ensure security either in Iraq or outside of it until the full withdrawal of their forces," the statement, released Sunday, said.
The statement comes in the wake of the Thursday morning drone attack on a US base in northeastern Syria, which killed a contractor and injured five American troops. The Pentagon responded by launching airstrikes against facilities in northeastern Syria purportedly affiliated with Iran. However, local sources cited by Iranian media indicated that US forces hit a rural development center and a grain facility in a neighborhood near Deir ez-Zor’s military airport, with no Iranian nationals killed in the attacks. US media claimed about a dozen or more ‘pro-Iranian fighters’ were killed.
In the wake of US strikes, President Biden warned that Washington would continue to “act forcefully to protect our people” in Syria against “Iranian-backed” militias. “And we’re going to continue to keep up our efforts to counter terrorist threats in the region,” he said.
The warning apparently failed to reach its intended audience, with another US service member reportedly injured after fighters fired rockets at US garrisons near the large Conoco gas field and the al-Omar oil field in Deir ez-Zor.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives voted down a resolution put forward by Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz to pull US troops out of Syria, with the lawmaker and his fellow pro-Trump Freedom Caucus Republicans getting a rare show of support from the Democrats’ Congressional Progressive Caucus, resulting in more than 100 lawmakers voting in favor of the bill.
Syrian authorities have repeatedly demanded that all uninvited foreign forces be removed from its territory, and have accused Washington of acting like "pirates" by occupying large swathes of the war-torn country and plundering its energy and food resources.