Updated February 5th, 2024 at 20:54 IST
Six Soldiers of US-backed SDF Forces Killed in Drone Strike in Syria by Iran-Backed Militia
SDF forces stationed at al-Omar base alongside US troops,
A drone strike on a defense base housing the US troops in eastern Syria has killed an estimated six US-backed troops from Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and injured 18 others in Deir ez-Zor province. This was the first retaliatory strike on US troops in Syria or Iraq since they targeted the Iran-backed militias in the region in response to the killing of three American soldiers in a drone assault at T-22 outpost of Al-Tanf base. US fighter jets dropped more than 125 precision munitions on over 85 targets linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its allied militias in Iraq and Syria.
SDF forces stationed at al-Omar base alongside US troops, released a statement condemning the attack. “We affirm our right to an appropriate military response to the source of the attack,” the statement added.
The attack was launched at the training ground at al-Omar gas field in Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zour, Syria. SDF’s elite commando units are trained here, military sources told The Associated Press. No injuries were reported among the US troops.
The assault that killed SDF troops was claimed by Iran-backed Iraqi militias who were targeted in strikes ordered by the US President Joe Biden and the Pentagon on Syria and neighbouring Iraq. The group claimed the responsibility in a video that depicted its fighters launching a drone from an unspecified location. SDF has said it has the right to respond to the attack.
Islamic State group in Syria. (AP)
‘Destroying enemy strongholds’
On its Telegram channel, the faction vowed to “destroying enemy strongholds” and acknowledged that it struck the US base in al-Omar oil field with a drone in response to what it described as the “massacres” committed against the Palestinians, in reference to Israel Hamas war in the Gaza strip.
Initially, the US-baked SDF accused “Syrian regime-backed mercenaries,” hinting at the ruling government Bashar-al-Assad’s forces who label the US trained SDF forces as Syrian “rebels” or “terrorists” trying to overthrow the government for more than 10 years. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), weaponised and trained by American troops to fight what they claim the ISIS on the Syrian territory, is a coalition that has been formed by ethnic militias and rebel groups. It serves as the official military wing of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).
Russia aligned ruling government of Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad accuses the US troops of “illegally occupying” an estimated 30% of Syrian territory as they have not been approved or authorised by Syrian government to have a formal military presence.
Damascus’ President Assad, who shared warm bilateral ties with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, accuses the American troops of ‘stealing [his country’s] oil to subsidize the quasi-independent territory in northeast Syria.’ The Syrian military aligned with Assad also accuse US of “collaborating with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”
US military’s “occupation in several regions of Syria must be stopped. The Syrian Armed Forces Command is committed to fighting terrorism and freeing the people of Syria from the grip of terrorists and occupation,” an official statement of the Syrian military reads.
The Syrian Armed Forces have expressed anger at the presence of US troops on their soil and barrage of attacks in several regions bordering Iraq battering civilian lives and infrastructure. A military statement published by state affiliated SANA agency, quots Syrian military saying, ”There are several cities in the east, near the border with Iraq, that are severely damaged. A number of civilians and military personnel have been killed. There are also property losses, both public and private.”
900 US soldiers ‘illegally’ stationed in Eastern Syria Security Zone (ESSA)
Despite no official authorization from the Assad-ruling government, the US has stationed have been stationed 900 soldiers illegally in an area called the Eastern Syria Security Zone (ESSA) since 2015. As many as 2,500 US troops are occupying regions across the border of Iraq conducting military operation called ‘Inherent Resolve’ to combat ISIS.
In an interview with Russian broadcaster RT earlier, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad threatened prospect of a direct confrontation with US forces if they did not exit his country Syria. He vowed that he would recover the territories occupied by American troops using “negotiations or force.”
While a large swathe of Syria is under Assad’s rule, tracts in the bordering areas with Iraq, Jordan and Syria where US Special Forces have been deployed fall outside of his control. Here, the US troops train the Syrian rebels, the the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that it says help in its fight against the ISIS.
"The only problem left in Syria is the SDF," Assad told RT. ”The Americans should leave, somehow they're going to leave.They came to Iraq with no legal basis, and look what happened to them. They have to learn the lesson. Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore,” he added, speaking to the Russian broadcaster in 2018, referring to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and dismantling the government of Saddam Hussein.
“[Syrian] People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore,” Syrian President said. US backed SDF spokesman Gabriel Kino, at the time, threatened Assad for his remarks by saying the Syrian Kurdish-led militia would "fight back fiercely" against "any attack."
Published February 5th, 2024 at 20:54 IST