2nd round of US airstrikes hits Iran-linked sites in eastern Syria - report

The strikes came as the US aimed to respond to a draft agreement proposed by the EU that would bring back the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

A US Marine Corps F-35B fighter jet drops a laser-guided bomb at Edwards Air Force Base, California. (photo credit: US NAVY VIA REUTERS)
A US Marine Corps F-35B fighter jet drops a laser-guided bomb at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
(photo credit: US NAVY VIA REUTERS)

A second round of airstrikes by the US-led international coalition operating in Iraq and Syria targeted Iran-linked sites in the Deir al-Zor region of eastern Syria on Wednesday evening, according to local reports.

The airstrikes targeted Iran-backed militias in the city of Al-Mayadin and Saker Island, according to the reports.

Alongside the reported airstrikes, reports by both Syrian and foreign media indicated that a number of rockets had been fired towards the Green Village and Conoco gas fields, both sites where US forces are hosted.

The renewed clashes came after the US military said it carried out air strikes on Tuesday in the Deir al-Zor region against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The strikes came even as the United States aimed to respond to a draft agreement proposed by the European Union that would bring back the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that former president Donald Trump abandoned and current President Joe Biden has sought to revive.

"The president gave the direction for these strikes."

Army Colonel Joe Buccino
  Syrian Democratic Forces flag flutters on a damaged building in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria, on March 23, 2019 (credit: REUTERS/STRINGER) Syrian Democratic Forces flag flutters on a damaged building in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria, on March 23, 2019 (credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)

The military's Central Command said in a statement that such strikes were aimed at protecting US forces from attack by Iran-backed groups.

It cited one such incident on August 15, which Reuters has reported involved drone attack on a compound run by coalition and US-backed Syrian opposition fighters, with no casualties.

"The president gave the direction for these strikes," said spokesman Army Col. Joe Buccino.

Central Command called the strikes a "proportionate, deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize the risk of casualties."

The statement about Tuesday's US strike did not mention whether there were any casualties and did not say whether they were carried out by manned or unmanned aircraft.

History of US operations in Iraq and Syria 

This is not the first time US warplanes have struck Iran-backed forces in Iraq and Syria. America hit operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one in Iraq in June last year.

US forces first deployed into Syria during the Obama  administration's campaign against Islamic State, partnering with a Kurdish-led group called the Syrian Democratic Forces. There are about 900 US troops in Syria, most of them in the east.

But Iran-backed militias established a foothold in Syria while fighting in support of President Bashar Assad during Syria's civil war.

Iranian-backed militias are heavily concentrated west of the Euphrates in Deir al-Zor province, where they get supplies from Iraq through the al-Bukamal border crossing.

Iran denies any link to targets hit by US in Syria

Iran denied having any link to sites targeted by the United States in Syria, Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on Wednesday, according to the ministry's telegram channel.

"The US attack on Syrian infrastructure and people is a violation of Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The sites targeted had no links to the Islamic Republic," Kanaani said.