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Syria Blames Israel for Airstrikes as Rockets Hit Base With U.S. Forces in Iraq

The Syrian army has accused Israel of bombing an airbase in Homs hours after rockets hit an Iraqi army facility utilized by U.S. and allied personnel close to Baghdad.

Following stories of anti-aircraft batteries countering enemy warplanes in japanese Homs province, the Syrian Defense Ministry said Tuesday that “Israeli planes conducted a new attack on the T-4 Airport from the direction of Al-Tanf area,” the place the U.S. controls a roughly 34-mile deconfliction zone. The Syrian army stated its “air defenses engaged the enemy missiles and dropped a number of them, while four missiles reached their target,” main solely to “material” injury.

Israel has but to say duty for the assault, however has intentionally neither confirmed nor denied most of its operations in Syria and neighboring Iraq, each of which hosted Shiite Muslim militias aligned with Iran. These teams have expressed hostility towards Israel, as properly as Saudi Arabia and the United States, which their fighters more and more noticed as an occupying force in the region.

Across the border in Iraq, one other but unclaimed assault struck a army facility Tuesday. The Iraqi army’s Security Media Cell reported earlier that “the Al-Taji military training camp north of Baghdad was targeted by Katyusha rockets, without significant losses.”

“No Coalition troops were affected by this small attack at Taji Base,” U.S. Army Col. Myles Caggins III, spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition in opposition to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), stated in an announcement.

Syria Blames Israel for Airstrikes as Rockets Hit Base With U.S. Forces in Iraq
An picture seize exhibits on November 20, 2019 reportedly exhibits Syrian air protection batteries responding to Israeli missiles concentrating on the southern outskirts of Damascus. – The Israeli army stated on the time that it focused Iranian Quds Force and Syrian army targets “in response to the rockets fired at Israel by an Iranian force in Syria.” AFP/Getty Images

Though no occasion has claimed duty for both assault, the 2 incidents match a rising sample of hostilities witnessed in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. and Iran have lengthy been concerned throughout the Middle East and, whereas each noticed launched campaigns to battle ISIS in 2014, the 2 rivals and their respective allies have since regarded each other as presenting the highest terrorist risk.

The U.S. beforehand confronted off with Shiite Muslim militias following its 2003 invasion of Iraq, a transfer that overthrew longtime chief Saddam Hussein and stirred a Sunni Muslim insurgency led first by Al-Qaeda and, later, ISIS. The U.S. withdrew in 2011 however returned with a global coalition in 2014 as Iran helped to ascertain a strong collective of militias identified as Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces.

Also in 2011, the U.S. first obtained concerned in Syria by becoming a member of regional allies in backing a insurgent and jihadi rebellion in opposition to the federal government, an ally of Iran and Russia. An more and more Islamist opposition made preliminary features, however Washington in the end shifted gears towards supporting the largely Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces in 2015, across the similar time that Moscow joined Tehran in backing Damascus.

The U.S. and Iran’s regional rivalry dates again many years however was renewed in 2018 with President Donald Trump’s resolution to go away a 2015 multi-national nuclear deal and impose heavy sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Since then, unclaimed rocket assaults are among the many many operations that Washington has blamed on Tehran.

One such Katyusha assault helped to set off a brand new spherical of main escalations after it killed a Pentagon contractor. The U.S. responded with a sequence of Iraq-Syria border strikes that killed as much as 27 individuals at positions held by the Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces and led to violent New Year’s protests at Washington’s embassy in Baghdad.

Just a day after the demonstrations subsided, the U.S. assassinated Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, Popular Mobilization Forces deputy chairman Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and different members of their entourage close to Baghdad International Airport. The stunning transfer led largely Shiite Muslim Iraqi lawmakers to efficiently vote for the withdrawal of U.S. forces and an Iranian missile attack on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. and allied troops.

The Trump administration has to this point responded solely with stronger sanctions, however U.S. officers have threatened additional motion as rocket assaults in opposition to Iraqi amenities housing U.S. and different international personnel have continued.

In Syria, Assad just lately obtained a lift of worldwide help final week in the type of a visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who appeared to reach on the similar worldwide airport sometimes focused by Israel. During his go to, which got here amid Syrian protests in opposition to Soleimani’s killing, the Russian chief vowed to proceed to help the Syrian army’s marketing campaign to retake all the nation.

Hours earlier than Tuesday’s strikes at T-4, Syrian Defense Minister Ali Ayoub introduced his Iranian counterpart Amir Hatami with a posthumous award for Soleimani on behalf of Assad.

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