AMMAN/WASHINGTON: The US military on Thursday hit several targets in the Syrian city of Mayadin in parts of Deir al Zor province under government control, in the third day of skirmishes with Iran-backed groups, local military sources said.

They said at least three members of an Iran-aligned militia were killed when they were targeted by a US helicopter as they were about to prepare a rocket launcher in the town which lies along the western bank of the Euphrates.

Iranian militias have a strong presence in the town and have long targeted the nearby Al Omar oil field on the eastern bank of the Euphrates where the US coalition have their biggest base in Syria.

The base also known as Green Village was last night targeted in a second consecutive day of violence between the US military and Iran-backed militants that injured at least one US service member and killed up to four militants, according to the US military.The latest exchange of fire underscored soaring military tensions even amid diplomatic efforts between Tehran and the West to try to save Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

It came a day after President Joe Biden authorised US air strikes in Syria on an ammunition depot and other facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The US military said the suspected Iran-backed militants launched two separate attacks starting at approximately 7:20pm local time in Syria.

Several rockets landed inside the perimeter of Mission Support Site Conoco in northeast Syria and were quickly followed by rocket fire near Mission Support Site Green Village, it said in a statement.Central Command said the wounded US service member had been at Mission Support Site Conoco and returned to duty after treatment. Two other servicemembers were under evaluation for minor injuries, it said. Some injuries, including brain trauma, can manifest after an incident.

“We are closely monitoring the situation,” General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, who leads Central Command, said in a statement. The latest attacks by the suspected Iran-backed groups could be retaliation for Biden’s air strikes on Tuesday.Meanwhile, Syrian air defences intercepted “hostile targets” over Hama’s countryside, state media reported on Thursday.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2022

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