Dec 08, 2021

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On Wednesday, the Al Tanf garrison, a remote US military base within territory controlled by the Syrian opposition in the southern Syrian desert, was targeted by a suspected drone attack in what US Central Command (CENTCOM) described as “a deliberate and coordinated attack”. No casualties were reported. 

“All US personnel have been accounted for,” the statement from CENTCOM read. “We maintain the inherent right of self-defense and will respond at a time and place of our choosing.”

There is still no solid indication as to who was responsible for the attack but similar drone attacks against US forces in Iraq have been carried out by Iranian-backed militias, most notably Kataib Hezbollah.

The attack comes one week after pro-Iranian militias in Syria vowed revenge for an alleged Israeli-American strike near Palmyra.

Witnesses from the nearby Rukban displaced person camp told Al Monitorbthat they saw unmanned aircraft and two fires on the horizon in the direction of al-Tanf. Iraqi security sources said the attack involved five booby-trapped drones as well as several rockets and was carried out from inside Syria.

The US maintains more than three thousand troops in Syria and Iraq combined in the wake of the multinational war against the Islamic State (ISIS). The Al Tanf base houses US Special Operations forces and a local rebel militia known as Maghawir al-Thawra (MAT) and occupies a vital border crossing. There are 1,000 troops in Syria but Al Tanf is the only US base in Syria not in Kurdish -controlled territory. The presence of the American garrison in Syrian territory remains a controversial topic, as both the Syrian and Russian governments consider the U.S. presence in al-Tanf illegal. A 35-mile buffer zone surrounds the base to prevent potential conflicts with Russian and Syrian government troops located nearby.