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Iran vows ‘swift response’ to US strikes on bases in Syria

March 26, 2023 at 12:50 pm

Smoke rises after war planes carried out airstrikes in Syri [Asaad Al Asaad/Anadolu Agency]

Iran’s top security body on Saturday warned that US strikes on military bases in Syria would draw a “swift response” as tensions escalate between the two arch-foes in the Arab country.

In a statement, Keyvan Khosravi, a spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), denounced US strikes that targeted Iran-linked bases in eastern Syria, which he said have been established “at the request of the Syrian government”.

“Any pretext to attack the bases that were created at the request of the Syrian government to deal with terrorism and Daesh/ISIS elements in this country will be immediately met with an immediate counter-response,” Khosravi said in statements cited by SNSC-affiliated Nour News.

His remarks came as the death toll from the US airstrikes on Iran-linked military bases in eastern Syria rose to 19 on Saturday, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The monitoring group said three Syrian troops, 11 Syrian militia fighters and five non-Syrian fighters were among those killed in the air raids. Their nationalities, however, were not confirmed.

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The attacks, according to US media reports, were carried out by F-15 fighter jets that pounded three locations in the vicinity of the strategic Deir ez-Zour region in eastern Syria.

The spate of US strikes came in response to Thursday’s drone attack that killed one American contractor and wounded at least six US military personnel. Pentagon blamed Iran for it.

On Friday, two more US bases in eastern Syria came under rocket attack, which reportedly caused damage but no casualties. The bases targeted were located near the al-Omar oilfield and the Koniko gas field in Deir ez-Zour province, according to local reports.

Khosravi accused the US of pursuing the policy of blame game and lies and “evading the consequences of its illegal occupation of a part of Syria’s territory”.

“Washington cannot attribute the natural and legal confrontation of the occupied countries with the US military forces to other countries by creating artificial crises and lying,” he stressed.

The spokesman added that Iran has “incurred huge costs” in the fight against terrorism in Syria and that it “opposes any action that imperils the stability” of the Arab country.

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He also accused US forces stationed in Syria of “creating and supporting” the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group as a “proxy tool for pursuing political goals in Syria and Iraq”.

“Over the past two days, American helicopters have carried out several sorties to stoke instability in Syria and moved Daesh/ISIS terrorists into the territory of this country,” he said.

On Friday, US President Joe Biden said the US would respond “forcefully” to protect its military personnel and contractors in Syria while adding that the US “does not seek conflict with Iran”.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin claimed the drone that killed one American contractor and injured others in Al-Hasakah in northeastern Syrian was of Iranian origin.

Both US and Iran maintain a military presence in war-torn Syria. While Tehran has been a staunch supporter of the Bashar al-Assad regime, Washington is fiercely opposed to it.

The latest escalation between the two countries comes weeks after Iran and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to restore diplomatic ties, and days after Riyadh agreed to reopen its embassy in Damascus after 11 years in significant regional developments.

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