The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported On Friday, 22 Iranian-backed fighters were killed when the strike at. 1 local time Friday (6pm Thursday in Washington) hit three trucks with weons crossing a border point from Iraq to Syria. It added that the number of deaths could increase.
“Our military was warned four to five minutes in advance. Of course, this has no value, even from the angle of deconstruction, as they say in the relationship between Russian and American soldiers, “Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow. “This kind of notice is given at a time when the strike has already been delivered.”
Russia emerged as a key player in Syria when President Vladimir Putin deployed forces in 2015 to support Moscow’s longtime ally, President Bashar al-Assad. Russia claims to be the only foreign player legally in Syria when Assad sought Russian help to confront rebels in the country’s civil war.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the attack hit facilities used by Iranian-affiliated Iraqi militias, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, at a strategic border crossing station in eastern Syria. The attack was “approved in response to recent attacks on US and coalition personnel in Iraq and on ongoing threats,” Kirby said.
The last US strike targeting the Syrian border area was in late 2019, when the Pentagon hit two locations in Kataib Hezbollah.
Syrian state media confirmed the latest strike and reported that it took place at a time when the army was targeting the Islamic State in the area.
Later in the day on Friday, Syria’s foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the attack, saying it violated international law and would escalate tensions in the region.
“This aggression is a negative indication of the policy of the new US government, which is supposed to follow international legitimacy, not the jungle law that the previous government had used to deal with regional and international crises around the world,” the statement said.
Iranian-backed groups allied with Assad control the border crossing and use it to transport weons, personnel and goods.
Kataib Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the recent attacks on US interests in Iraq. An assistant to a senior Kataib Hezbollah commander told The Washington Post that one of its soldiers was killed in the attack.
“It is strange that the United States bombed Kataib Hezbollah over an attack that was itself condemned by Kataib Hezbollah,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
While the United States has not targeted the area since 2019, Israel regularly hits sites near the Syrian-Iraqi border, bombing Iranian and Iranian-backed groups and their facilities, as well as positions from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Corps designated a terrorist group by the United States.
“The implicit message is that the strike is not about the strike itself, but the messages it has had,” said Omar Abu Layla, leader of the monitoring group Deir al-Zour 24, which has a network on the ground in the area. “[The Americans] does not negotiate the Iranian case outside Iran. [They] can agree [with Iran] on the nuclear issue, but will continue to strike militias following Iran outside. Abu Layla added that the strike shows that the United States will not let Allied Israel bear the brunt of hitting this area alone.
Lavrov claimed to have intelligence that America had no plans to leave Syria and was aiming to break up the country.
“It is alleged that they have decided never to leave Syria until that country is broken,” Lavrov said, adding that Moscow wants to resume contacts with Washington over the conflict.
“It is very important for us to resume contacts at the political-diplomatic level, and we hope that the new administration will quickly put together teams for this purpose,” he said.
Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Russian State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said the attack proved Washington was not interested in peace in Syria.
“It is clear that the priorities of the new US government do not include peace in Syrian land and the war on terror,” Slutsky was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “The airstrikes killed members of pro-Iranian units fighting for Syrian government forces, and the attack was launched without any charge or trial,” he said.
Dadouch reported from Beirut. Mustafa Salim in Baghdad contributed to this report.