The U.S. military’s AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and AC-130 gunships have struck Iran-backed militant positions in Syria, for allegedly attempting to harm Americans based in the country.
"It's our assessment that these groups are testing and attempting to see how we might respond," Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a briefing today. "I think, based on the strikes that we have taken, we've sent a very loud and clear message and a proportional message, that any threat against our forces who are operating in Syria, or anywhere, will not be tolerated."
U.S. military forces conducted precision airstrikes in Deir ez-Zor Syria yesterday in response to the August 15 attacks against American forces in Syria, a U.S. Central Command official said. "The U.S. strikes targeted infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps," Army Col. Joe Buccino, the command's public affairs officer, said.
Officials estimate that four militants were killed and 10 rocket launchers destroyed. "Centcom forces struck at Iran-affiliated militants in the area with AH-64 Apache attack helicopters AC-130 gunships and M-777 artillery," Ryder said. "Again this was in response to yesterday's rocket attacks against Mission Support Site Conoco and Mission Support Site Green Village in northeast Syria."
Ryder said the strikes were appropriate and indicated the U.S. determination "to take all necessary measures to defend our people," the press secretary said.
President Joe Biden authorized the attacks, according to Centcom officials.
The American forces are in Syria as part of the defeat-ISIS mission under Operation Inherent Resolve. The effort has been remarkably successful. The Islamic State once controlled wide swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. Working by, with and through local Iraqi and Syrian forces a coalition of more than 90 nations helped drive ISIS from power. Now there are remnants in the region, and the U.S. forces are part of the effort to ensure the group doesn't reconstitute.