Iran-backed militias step up attacks against US forces in region

The US-led coalition accused "Iran-supported malign actors" of firing eight rockets towards a coalition base in eastern Syria.

 Rocket fired by Iran-backed groups towards base hosting US forces in northeastern Syria, January 5, 2022 (photo credit: Courtesy/Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve)
Rocket fired by Iran-backed groups towards base hosting US forces in northeastern Syria, January 5, 2022
(photo credit: Courtesy/Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve)

A number of rocket attacks associated with Iran-backed militias were reported against locations housing US advisers in Iraq and Syria on Wednesday, amid an uptick in attacks on the US-led coalition in the region after the second anniversary of the US assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.

On Wednesday night, an unidentified UAV was intercepted by air defenses near the Ain al-Assad base where members of the US-led coalition are housed.

Earlier on Wednesday evening, five rockets were launched towards Ain al-Assad. The rockets fell short of the base, according to the coalition.

On Wednesday afternoon, the US-led coalition operating in Syria and Iraq accused "Iran-supported malign actors" of firing eight rockets towards a coalition base in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria earlier in the day.

Later in the night, rockets were fired towards a base near the Conoco oil field in eastern Syria, with coalition airstrikes reported against Iran-backed militias in Deir Ezzor, according to Arabic-language reports. Initial reports indicated casualties among the militias.

No casualties were reported in the rocket attack, which targeted the Green Village, a base belonging to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) housing advisers from the coalition in northeast Syria. A number of the rockets fell within the base, causing minor damage.

Maj.-Gen. John W. Brennan, Jr., the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, warned that "These inaccurate and indiscriminate indirect fire attacks pose a serious threat to innocent civilians because of their lack of discrimination."

Brennan added the coalition reserves the right to defend itself and partner forces against any threat. "Our Coalition continues to see threats against our forces in Iraq and Syria by militia groups that are backed by Iran. These attacks are a dangerous distraction from our Coalition's shared mission to advise, assist and enable partner forces to maintain the enduring defeat of Daesh."

According to local news source Deir Ezzor 24, one of the rockets fired towards the base hit a mosque nearby.

Before the attack, the coalition conducted airstrikes against rocket launch sites it says posed an immediate threat in the vicinity of the Green Village in order to eliminate the threat.

 Rocket fired by Iran-backed groups towards base hosting US forces in northeastern Syria, January 5, 2022 (credit: Courtesy/Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve) Rocket fired by Iran-backed groups towards base hosting US forces in northeastern Syria, January 5, 2022 (credit: Courtesy/Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve)

According to Deir Ezzor 24, death and injuries were reported among Iran-backed militias near the city of Al-Mayadeen. Additional airstrikes were carried out by the coalition in Deir Ezzor on Wednesday evening, according to BBC reporter Nafiseh Kohnavard.

Early Wednesday morning, rockets targeted the Al-Nasr camp near Baghdad International Airport, where advisers from the US-led international coalition are located.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby stated that the US continues "to see threats against our forces in Iraq and Syria by militia groups that are backed by Iran."

"We have consistently been concerned about the threats to our forces in Iraq by militias backed by Iran. That is not a new concern. And I think we've seen in just the last few days that there have been acts perpetrated by some of these groups that validate the consistent concern that we've had over safety and security of our people," said Kirby.