U.S., Syrian Troops Foil Drone Attack on Base Housing American Forces

U.S-backed and Kurdish-led forces stopped a drone attack on the al-Omar oil field base in the Syrian province of Deir el-Zour, the Syrian Democratic Forces said.

The base housed members of the U.S.-led coalition in eastern Syria. No damages were reported.

Yesterday evening at 07:45 NES time, one of our forward anti-Daesh military bases was suffered a serious missile attack in the Al-Omar field area, Deir Ezzor countryside. The damage was limited to material losses only.

— Syrian Democratic Forces (@SDF_Syria) June 29, 2021

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the drones were launched from areas controlled by Iran-backed fighters in the eastern Syrian town of Mayadeen.

The same base was attacked over the weekend, according to Syrian Kurdish-led forces and a Syrian opposition activist. No casualties were reported, though the U.S. military has denied there were any attacks Sunday, the Associated Press reported.

The attacks come as tension has been on the rise between U.S. troops and Iran-backed fighters after American airstrikes in eastern Syria killed four Iraqi fighters late last month in areas along the Syria-Iraq border. The Pentagon said targets attacked on June 27, were facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups to support drone strikes inside Iraq.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Syria Drone
US soldiers look on as locals approach a Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) on patrol in Rumaylan (Rmeilan) in Syria's northeastern Hasakeh province on June 22, 2021. U.S.-backed Syrian fighters and American troops stopped a drone attack in Syria Wednesday. DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images

In neighboring Iraq, rockets hit a base housing U.S. troops, inflicting two minor injuries.

Col. Wayne Marotto, the spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, said that Al-Assad Air Base in western Iraq was attacked early in the afternoon by 14 rockets that landed on the base and its perimeter, prompting the activation of defensive measures. Marotto later tweeted: "100 percent accountability at Ain Al-Assad Air Base after rocket attack. Two personnel sustained minor injuries." The damage was still to be assessed, he added without elaborating.

A statement from the Security Media Cell, which is affiliated with Iraq's security forces, said a mobile rocket launcher hidden in a truck loaded with bags of flour and parked in the nearby village of Baghdadi was used in the attack. It added that 14 rockets were fired toward the base while the rest exploded on the truck, damaging some village homes and a mosque.

Iraq's government called it a "terrorist attack" and a "flagrant violation" of Iraqi laws.

A previously unknown group calling itself "The brigades to avenge al-Muhandis," said its members fired 30 rockets toward the base "run by American occupiers." It added a message to U.S. troops: "We will force you to leave our lands defeated."

The group is named after Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was killed last year in a U.S. drone attack in Baghdad along with Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Drone attacks against the U.S.-led coalition in Syria are not common. Hundreds of U.S. troops are stationed in northeastern Syria, working with the Kurdish-led fighters in battling the Islamic State group.

Thousands of Iran-backed militiamen from around the Middle East are deployed in different parts of Syria, many of them in areas along the border with Iraq.

The leader of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia vowed on Monday to retaliate against America for the deaths of four of his men in a U.S. airstrike along the Iraq-Syria border last month. Abu Alaa al-Walae, commander of the Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada group, said the revenge attack will be a military operation everyone will talk about.

The U.S. has blamed Iran-backed militias for attacks — most of them rocket strikes — that have targeted the American presence in Baghdad and at military bases across Iraq. The attacks have recently become more sophisticated, with militants using drones.

Late Tuesday, the counter-terrorism unit in Iraq's northern Kurdish-run region reported a drone attack on Irbil airport, near where U.S. forces are based. The statement by the counter-terrorism unit said the attack caused no damage, though the missiles fell in open fields and set fires.