Iran behind attack on US base at al-Tanf: report
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – US officials believe that Iran was responsible for an attack at al-Tanf, a US outpost in south-central Syria, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
The attack, on Oct. 20, hit both sides of the base: one of which houses US forces and the other Syrian Arab opposition forces, backed and trained by the US-led coalition to fight against ISIS.
There were no US casualties, AP reported, while its sources had no information on possible casualties among America’s Syrian partners.
Al-Tanf occupies a strategic position. It sits astride Highway 1, linking Baghdad and Damascus, and beyond the Syrian capital, Lebanon, where Lebanese Hizbollah represents the oldest and strongest Iranian proxy force in the Middle East.
Al-Tanf was first established as part of the fight against ISIS, but the terrorist group has been defeated in that area, and al-Tanf now blocks the transit of Iran and its proxies through Iraq to the Mediterranean.
Last Wednesday’s assault involved as many as five armed drones, AP said, as well as rocket fire, and “the US believes that Iran resourced and encouraged the attack.”
Asked on Monday about the assault, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby described it as “complex, coordinated, and deliberate,” but he declined to provide any further details, including whether Iran had been responsible.
“We have seen these kinds of attacks in the past from Shi’a militia groups,” Kirby said, “which we know are backed and supported by Iran.”
“But I’m not going to get into specific attribution on this one,” he continued. “We’re still working our way through.”
Yet Kirby also affirmed the US right of self-defense. “If there’s to be a response, it will be at a time and a place in a manner of our choosing,” he affirmed, but “we certainly won’t get ahead of those kinds of decisions.”
Iranian-backed elements in the region, nonetheless, are speaking openly about their role.
“Pro-Iran media outlets have been saying” that the al-Tanf attack “was carried out by ‘Syria’s allies’”—i.e., pro-Iranian militias—“in retaliation” for an Israeli strike the week before, near Palmyra, Syria, which killed a Syrian soldier and three pro-Iranian fighters, AP said.
“You can consider that the strike on al-Tanf was an implementation” of earlier promises by Syria’s allies to retaliate for Palmyra, one source told AP, which identified him as an official in the self-styled “Axis of Resistance”—the pro-Iranian alliance that stretches from Tehran to Lebanon, through Iraq and Syria, and which includes Lebanese Hizbollah, as well as the pro-Iranian militias which Tehran has established in Iraq.