Drone strike on US base Iran retaliation for Israel airstrikes - report

If true, this would be the first Iran-directed attack against the US in retaliation for Israeli actions.

 A drone is launched during a large-scale drone combat exercise of Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Semnan, Iran January 6, 2021.  (photo credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
A drone is launched during a large-scale drone combat exercise of Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Semnan, Iran January 6, 2021.
(photo credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

An October drone strike against a US military base in Syria was Iran's retaliation for Israeli airstrikes, anonymous US and Israeli intelligence officials told The New York Times on Thursday. 

The attack took place on October 20 at the Al Tanf base, where five suicide drones struck.

There were no casualties, as most of the troops were evacuated beforehand following an Israeli intelligence tip, officials told the Times.

If true, this would be the first Iran-directed attack against the US in retaliation for Israeli actions.

The Times report said that Israeli and US intelligence officials had evidence pointing to Tehran being behind the attack, having studied the unexploded drones and finding them similar to the ones used by Iran-backed Iraqi militias.

However, they will not discuss further details, as the US does not want to jeopardize the Iran nuclear deal talks set to resume soon, according to The New York Times.

 Missile fire is seen over Damascus, Syria January 21, 2019.  (credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) Missile fire is seen over Damascus, Syria January 21, 2019. (credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Iran has yet to officially claim responsibility, though an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-run Telegram channel did say it was retaliation for Israeli airstrikes in Syria, the Times reported.

“There have been a number of these incidents where they accused Iran without any proof or documents,” Saeed Khatibzadeh, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a news conference last week, according to the Times. “Countries that have established military bases in Syria without the invitation of Syria’s central government, continue policies of terrorism and support terrorist countries are the real root of instability in the region and in Syria.”

Pro-Iranian groups have increasingly used drones to target US forces in Iraq, including at the airport in Erbil, as well as Al Asad Airbase and US forces based in Syria.

Israeli airstrikes have been alleged in foreign media reports to have been launched at targets in Syria. 

On November 17, the IDF reportedly fired two missiles from the Golan Heights towards an empty building south of Damascus.

Seth J. Frantzman and Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.