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Rockets and mortars fired at US base in Syria in reprisal for airstrikes against Shia militia – reports

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A base used by US troops in eastern Syria, near the Omar oil field in Deir-ez-Zor province, was reportedly struck and damaged by rocket and mortar fire. The attack appears to be in retaliation for US airstrikes over the weekend.

At least eight rockets caused material damage inside the base, local media reported. Mortar shell impacts were also reported near the oilfield. There have been no reports of casualties as yet.

Photos and footage posted on social media showed multiple rocket launches and explosions.

After the initial rocket attack, US airplanes bombed militia positions near Al-Mayadin, local media said, following which more rockets and mortars were fired at the base.

On Sunday, US airstrikes killed at least four members of Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, a Shia militia mobilized to fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and operating on the Iraqi-Syrian border. Baghdad condemned the strikes as “a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the airstrikes as a “necessary, appropriate, deliberate action” intended to “send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message” to the militia, which Washington has accused of working for Iran.

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Monday’s reported incident marks the first time US troops inside Syria have been targeted in response to airstrikes against Shia militias. In January 2020, Iran fired a barrage of long-range missiles at Iraqi bases hosting US troops, in retaliation for the drone assassination of the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani.

An estimated 900 US troops remain in northeastern Syria, occupying oil fields and propping up a Kurdish-led militia that fought against IS but now refuses to release the liberated territory to the government in Damascus.

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