US forces have come under fire in Syria – a day after launching airstrikes on Iran-backed militants on the country’s border.
Col. Wayne Maratto tweeted: “U.S. 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.”
He later added: “Update: U.S. Forces in Syria, while under multiple rocket attack, acted in self- defense and conducted counter-battery artillery fire at rocket launching positions.”
A source told CNN the rockets were likely fired by Iranian-backed militias.
The attack took place at site dubbed the “Green Village”. The oil field is in the larger security zone where US troops help to protect Syrian fighters.
The Biden administration had launched strikes on two targets in Syria and one in Iraq close to the border on Sunday.
Footage shows US F-15 and F-16 fighter jets carrying out the airstrikes on the militias as they dropped 500-2,000 pound satellite-guided missiles on the targets.
Pilots targeted their drone facilities that were used to attack US troops in Iraq.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that the sites targeted were used for “operational and weapons” storage by militia groups including Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada.
He added that the facilities could launch unmanned aerial vehicle attacks against US troops in Iraq.
Kirby said that Biden was protecting the US in carrying out the strikes.
He said: “As demonstrated by this evening’s strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect US personnel.”
“Given the ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting US interests in Iraq, the President directed further military action to disrupt and deter such attacks.”
A US defense official told CBS that all targets were hit and there were no indications of any civilian casualties.
The airstrikes were blasted by Iraq’s Ministry of Defense as officials accused Washington of an “unacceptable violation” of Iraqi sovereignty.
General Yehia Rasool, a spokesman for the General Commander of the Iraqi Armed Forces, said the military will carry out investigations to prevent “violations” reoccurring.
Iranian Foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said Washington was taking the wrong path.
He said: “Instead of emotional actions and creating tensions and problems in the region, the U.S. should change its behavior and let the regional people establish security without Washington’s interference.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least seven members of an Iran-backed militant group were killed.
Kirby said that Biden acted “to protect US personnel in Iraq” with authority granted to him in domestic law.
He added that the US was justified under international law to conduct the airstrikes as a matter of self-defense.
He said: “We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq for the sole purpose of assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to defeat ISIS.
“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 strikes were both necessary to address the threat and appropriately limited in scope.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised the airstrikes as a “targeted and proportional response.”
It comes after hardliner Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s new president.
Pelosi said: “Protecting the military heroes who defend our freedoms is a sacred priority.
“The Iran-backed militias utilizing these facilities have been engaged in attacks threatening US service members, as well as our allies.
“Congress looks forward to receiving and reviewing the formal notification of this operation under the War Powers Act and to receiving additional briefings from the Administration.”
But, Sen. Chris Murphy said he feared the US was inching towards a new war with Iran, Mailonline reports.
He said: “The pace of activity directed at U.S forces and the repeated retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxy forces are starting to look like what would qualify as a pattern of hostilities under the War Powers Act.”
The Biden administration previously launched airstrikes in Syria close to the Iraqi border in February.
The move drew backlash from progressive Democrats.
It was also criticized by Republicans after the military action was taken without consultation with Congress.
The Pentagon claimed at the time that this airstrike was retaliatory and a “defensive” move.
The facilities hit were reportedly used by Iranian-backed militia groups as well.
It was carried out after a rocket attack on a US base in northern Iraq killed a contractor and injured an American service member.
Yet a top Iranian official claimed that Biden’s February strike expanded ISIS activity along the Syria-Iraq border.
Biden said at the time that Iran should view his decision to authorize US airstrikes in Syria as a warning.
He said that there would be consequences for its support of militia groups that threaten US interests or personnel,
Biden said: “You can’t act with impunity. Be careful.”
The Sun (US)