US fighting in Syria, and why?

U.S. forces in Syria have been carrying out strikes against “Iran-backed” militias this week in response to a recent drone attack on the American base at Tanf and rocket attacks at two other bases in northeastern Syria.

The first U.S. strike this week came in response to an August 15 attack, and that was quickly followed up by another hit. These airstrikes reportedly targeted bunkers used by the militias and killed between six and 10 people.

A later militia strike at bases in Deir al-Zour resulted in three U.S. troops suffering minor injuries, and the U.S. responded to that with Apache attack helicopters on Wednesday, reportedly resulting in casualties. It remains to be seen if the clashes will continue, but there has already been considerable escalation in just a few days. 

Militia strike bases in Deir al-Zour resulted in three U.S. troops suffering minor injuries, and the U.S. responded to that with Apache attack helicopters on Wednesday, reportedly resulting in casualties. It remains to be seen if the clashes will continue, but there has already been considerable escalation in just a few days. 

What caused this latest eruption of fighting? The original August 15 attack on Tanf was likely retaliation for Israeli airstrikes in other parts of Syria just hours before. This is not the first time that U.S. troops have come under fire from militias as a response to Israeli strikes in Syria. Something similar happened in October 2021, when the base at Tanf was targeted in a drone attack in response to Israeli strikes.

Israel coordinates with the U.S. on many of its airstrikes in Syria, and these attacks take place with our government’s knowledge and approval. U.S. troops are being put at risk at least in part because the Israeli government is waging its so-called shadow war against Iranian targets in Syria.

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