July 12, 2021
Iran-backed Afghan militias were behind an attack on a US military base at the Al-Omar oil field in eastern Syria, a military source has told IranWire.
The rocket attack on the base in Deir al-Zour province, close to the former Conoco gas facility in Khashan, came days after an attempted drone strike on the same location.
Four missiles are understood to have hit the base directly in the early hours of Sunday. A source close to Iran-backed militias in Syria told IranWire that the Fatemiyoun Brigade, a militia made up of partly-conscripted Afghan nationals under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was behind the attack.
The group, he said, is stationed in the Hawija Sakr area, which is currently under the control of the Syrian regime. He added that there had been no casualties.
In the past week US forces in Iraq and Syria have been targeted by six separate missile and drone attacks. Last Wednesday at least 14 missiles struck an airbase in Iraq housing US troops, injuring two service personnel.
Militias including Iran-backed groups have intensified attacks on American forces in recent months despite US President Joe Biden’s announcement of his intention to respond with air strikes in late June.
The acting head of an Iranian-backed Shia Iraqi militia, the Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades, then vowed on Monday, July 5 to “avenge” the United States for killing of four of his men in a US air strike on the Iraq-Syria border last month.
In an interview with AP in Baghdad, Abu Ala al-Walai added: “The electoral victory of Iran’s hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi to the presidency will strengthen Iran-backed armed groups across the East… Revenge against the Americans will come through a military operation that everyone will be talking about.”
The threat came after the Iran-backed Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq also warned of a planned “shocking response” to the US air strikes.
The Brigades’ official spokesman, Mohammad Mohi, told the Revolutionary Guards-affiliated Fars News Agency: “The occupying American forces will be surprised by the capabilities, capabilities and weapons of the resistance if they dare to defy the Iraqis’ will and keep their forces in Iraq.”
These military escalations come at a time when Washington is still engaged – albeit now falteringly – in indirect talks with Iran over a possible return to the JCPOA. The sixth round of talks ended inconclusively in late June.