ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A US aircraft struck one of our “fixed bases” on the Syrian border with Iraq, killing 22 fighters and injuring 12, the Iran-backed Hashd-al Shaabi claimed on Monday.
A statement issued by the Shia-dominated militias, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), condemned the bombing and called on “the American side to issue an explanation.”
The PMF statement added that its forces have been on the Syrian-Iraqi border in cooperation with “joint Iraqi operations” which are based north of the Syrian area of Albu Kamal, about 700 meters from the border with Iraq.
The Iraqi army, along with the Iran-backed militias, has been active in the border region where they conduct operations against the so-called Islamic State (IS).
“We believe that such strikes were an attempt to enable the enemy [IS] to control the border after the military forces liberated these areas and cleared the border,” the PMF statement read.
The Hashd al-Shaabi announcement follows reports from Syrian state media on Monday claiming US-led coalition warplanes bombed one of its military positions in the east of the country, resulting in deaths and injuries. The US military promptly denied the allegations.
The Syrian army along with Iranian-backed militias, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraq’s PMF, took control of Albu Kamal and its surrounding areas in 2017 but IS militants have since launched multiple attacks in attempts to regain the strategic territory.
The coalition provides aerial and ground support to Kurdish-led forces battling the extremist group in the eastern Syrian countryside, northeast of Albu Kamal.
Coalition forces, namely US troops, are also present in al-Tanf, southwest of Albu Kamal, in the Syrian desert near the border of Jordan and Iraq.
UK-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights, said the unidentified aircraft had targeted Hezbollah and other foreign Shia militias allied to the Syrian government near Albu Kamal.
The strikes killed 40 people, according to the monitor group.
An American official, however, denied any coalition member had carried out air strikes in the area.
“No member of the US-led coalition carried out strikes near Albu Kamal,” Major Josh Jacques, a US Central Command spokesperson, told Reuters.