A US military spokesman stated that his country’s forces were attacked by several missiles. “There are no casualties and we are assessing the damage. We will provide updates when we have more information,” Colonel Wayne Maroto said, without elaborating.
Sources in Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria reported that an Iranian-backed faction fired artillery shells near the Al-Omar oil field, which is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
The missile fire highlights the danger of escalation and the limits of US firepower needed to rein in factions allied with Iran, which Washington holds responsible for a series of increasingly sophisticated strikes by drones on US soldiers and facilities in Iraq.
And US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and the White House, hours ago, defended US strikes in Iraq and Syria on Sunday as a way to curb escalation.
“We have taken necessary, appropriate and deliberate action aimed at reducing the risk of escalation and also to send a clear and unambiguous message of deterrence,” Blinken told reporters in Rome.
In a statement, the pro-Iranian Popular Mobilization Forces mentioned the names of four members of the “Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades,” which it said were killed in the attack on the Syrian-Iraqi border. She vowed revenge.
The Iraqi government denounced the US strikes on its soil and said it was considering “resorting to all available legal options to prevent the recurrence of such attacks that violate Iraq’s airspace and territory.”
Syria described the strikes as a “flagrant violation of the sanctity of Syrian and Iraqi territories,” while the Iraqi army and government condemned the US strikes.
The Iraqi and US militaries are coordinating closely on a separate battle in Iraq to fight the remnants of the Islamic State group.
This was the second time that President Joe Biden had ordered retaliatory strikes against Iran-backed factions since taking office five months ago. In February, he ordered limited air strikes on Syria in response to missile attacks in Iraq.
Two US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Iranian-backed militias have launched at least five drone attacks on facilities used by US and coalition elements in Iraq since April.
As the Biden administration looks to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, these attacks highlight how the US president aims to launch such defensive strikes in conjunction with his country’s participation in diplomatic efforts with Tehran.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Iran was a bad actor in the region that supported “maximally problematic behavior,” but she advocated diplomacy as a way to deny Tehran nuclear weapons.
Critics of Biden say Iran cannot be trusted and point to the drone attacks as further evidence that Tehran and its proxies will never accept a US presence in Iraq or Syria. Iran called on the United States not to “provoke a crisis” in the region.
“It is certain that what the United States is doing is destabilizing security in the region, and the United States will be a victim of this disturbance,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday.