US soldier outside Manbij Syria
Syria

US Troops In Syria Face Rocket Attack After Airstrikes On Militias

No casualties have been reported following the attack, which came one day after the US conducted airstrikes on Iran-backed militia groups.

US soldier outside Manbij Syria

American troops in Syria have come under fire from a rocket attack one day after US airstrikes on facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups to support drone strikes in Iraq.

No casualties have been reported from the rocket attack.

On Sunday Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the militias were launching attacks with unmanned aerial vehicles against US troops from the targeted facility.

There was no indication that the attack was meant as the beginnings of a wider, prolonged US bombing campaign in the region.

But, on Monday a US military spokesman in Baghdad, Colonel Wayne Marotto, wrote on Twitter that "US forces in Syria were attacked by multiple rockets".

The tweet said: "At approx. 7:44 PM local time, US Forces in Syria were attacked by multiple rockets. There are no injuries and damage is being assessed. We will provide updates when we have more information."

In a later post he said the US then proceeded to act in "self-defense" taking up and firing from counter "rocket launching positions".

"US Forces in Syria, while under multiple rocket attack, acted in self-defense and conducted counter-battery artillery fire at rocket launching positions."

Mr Kirby said the US had targeted three operational and weapons storage facilities, one in Iraq and two in Syria, in what he described as "necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action".

He said: "The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation — but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message."

The Pentagon said the facilities were used by Iran-backed militia factions, including Kata'ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, and described one of the facilities as being used as a co-ordination centre for the shipment of advanced conventional weapons.

Speaking in Rome on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said President Biden would act when the safety of Americans was threatened.

"This action in self-defense, to do what's necessary to do to prevent further attacks, I think sends a very important and strong message. And I hope very much that it is received.

Watch: The US military's airstrikes on sites used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region.

"I think we've demonstrated with the actions taken last night and actions taken previously, that the president is fully prepared to act and act appropriately and deliberately to protect us."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group closely monitoring the conflict through activists on the ground reported that at least seven Iraqi militiamen had been killed in the airstrikes.

Iran-backed Iraqi militia factions vowed revenge and said in a joint statement that they would be continuing to target US forces in the region.

In a rare condemnation of US airstrikes, Iraq's military also criticised US actions as a "blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and national security".  

It called for an end to escalation and rejected any notion that Iraq is an "arena for settling accounts" – a reference to the US and Iran.

Cover image: US Army.