America strikes in Syria after indirect fire threat

While the US is not officially confirming the attacks, a defense official with direct knowledge said only US forces in that area have weapons capable of carrying out such attacks.

Preliminary assessments have concluded that the attacks destroyed the seven Katyusha rocket sites they were targeting.

“Indirect fire attacks pose a serious threat to innocent civilians because of their lack of discrimination,” the Operation Inherent Resolve official said in a statement.

Operation Inherent Resolution is a US-led coalition to combat ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Although there was no specific allegation for the indirect fire, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the US continues to see threats against US forces in the region from Iranian-backed militias.

“Over the past few days, there have been actions by some of these groups that validate our continued concerns about the safety and security of our people,” Kirby said at a news briefing on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, the US shot down two drones near Ain al-Assad Air Base in Iraq, according to the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office. It is the same base targeted by Iranian missiles two years ago after the US assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps General Qassem Soleimani.

Although officials have not said whether they believe these recent attacks are related to the killing of Soleimani, last weekend was the two-year anniversary of his death.

Tensions are also high as sensitive talks continue in Vienna, Austria, over the future of the Iran nuclear deal.

US and coalition forces in the region have been repeatedly hit by drone and indirect attacks for months.

On Sunday, an area near Baghdad airport where US forces are located was the target of a failed attack.

In October, a “deliberate and coordinated” attack using multiple drones targeted US forces at the At-Tanf base in Syria, near the borders with Iraq and Jordan.

The US maintains about 900 troops in Syria, which is largely divided between At-Tanf and Green Village.

At the start of the year, US forces operating in Iraq transition from a military role to an advisory and support mission, helping the Iraqi government in its effort to try and eliminate the last remnants of ISIS.

“We haven’t stuck to this mission … this new mission … with the illusion that our people are less threatened by these militia groups,” Kirby said. “We’re going to focus on that threat as we focus on the mission at hand and make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect our people.”


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