Iran-backed Missile Assaults in Syria Injures 3 U.S. Service Personnel

U.S. Central Command reported on Wednesday that three American service members were injured in rocket attacks in Syria by suspected Iran-backed militants. This is the latest in a series of attacks on American personnel that U.S. officials say were directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The military announced in a news release late Wednesday that rockets had been dropped on two separate locations in northeastern Syria beginning at around 7:30 p.m. local time. Several missiles landed within the confines of Mission Support Site Conoco, and then others landed in the area of Mission Support Site Green Village.

A single American serviceman sustained a minor injury at Conoco and was sent back to duty, while two others are being evaluated.

The announcement states that assault helicopters were used by U.S. soldiers in response to the strikes. Three trucks and equipment used to fire some of the missiles were destroyed in the ensuing reaction, and preliminary reports suggest that two or three suspected militants were killed.

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U.S. forces conducted nighttime airstrikes in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, aimed at Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated infrastructure installations, setting the stage for the current wave of attacks. Officials stated that the strikes were a response to previous attacks on U.S. personnel in Syria by groups with ties to Iran, including one on August 15. The strikes were also meant to send a message to Tehran that the United States will defend itself.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl stated, “We are not going to allow attacks by Iran-backed forces on American soldiers anywhere in the world, including in Syria, and we will not hesitate to protect ourselves and take additional steps as required.”

When the U.S. military arrived to the site, Kahl claimed, they scouted out 11 bunker targets but only struck nine of them because new information suggested there might be people nearby the bunker at the time of the hit. Forces refrained from attacking specific locations “out of an abundance” of prudence, he explained, so as to reduce the chance of deaths.

One high-ranking defense officer has publicly blamed and attributed the attacks on the IRGC.

The attacks come as the United States keeps trying to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Tehran to replace the one President Trump withdrew from in 2015.

Kahl emphasized that the strikes are unrelated to the current negotiations, but that the United States will not hesitate to defend itself if attacked.