Airstrikes kill 19 pro-Iran fighters in east Syria

Airstrikes kill 19 pro-Iran fighters in east Syria
The airstrikes come after members of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed an attack on a US military base in the city of Erbil.
2 min read
30 December, 2023
Al Bukamal has been targeted by both US and Israeli airstrikes on Iranian assets in the city both since and before the Gaza war started [Photo by Jordan Pix/ Getty Images]

Three overnight airstrikes on eastern Syria Saturday near a strategic border crossing with Iraq killed 19 Iran-backed militants, two members of Iraqi militia groups told The Associated Press.

The strikes on the city of Al Bukamal came hours after an umbrella group of Iran-backed Iraqi militants - known as the Islamic Resistance of Iraq - claimed an attack on a US military base in the city of Erbil in northern Iraq. The group has conducted over a hundred attacks on US positions in Iraq and eastern Syria since the onset of the Gaza war on 7 October

Some of the killed were from Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah group while other militants were Syrian, the militants said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to talk to the press. Another number of fighters were injured, they added.

Meanwhile, an activist collective that covers news in the area, Deir Ezzor 24, said the airstrikes hit two militant posts and a weapons warehouse that it says was recently stocked with drones, rocket launchers and munitions sent by Iran.

Elsewhere, the UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in addition to the weapons warehouse, the strikes targeted a militants' convoy that had arrived from Iraq to Syria as well as a location where a militia affiliated with Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard was training.

It added that the strikes killed nine people, three Syrians and six people from other nationalities.

Washington did not immediately comment on the strike, though it has announced some were planned on Iran-backed militia positions following the surge of attacks over the past two months.

President Joe Biden last week ordered the US military to carry out strikes on Iranian-backed Iraqi groups following a rocket attack that wounded three US troops.

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The spike in tension has put Baghdad in a delicate situation. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has tried to ease the strain between the militant groups that helped him reach power and the US where Iraq's foreign reserves are housed.

Al Bukamal in Deir az-Zour, Syria, is located on the Iraqi border, has been a strategic area for Iran-backed militants after it was taken back from the extremist Islamic State group in 2019. US coalition forces have conducted strikes targeting convoys there prior to recent tensions.