The airstrikes conducted by the US military targeted Iranian-backed groups in Deir ez-Zor Syria, US Central Command said in a statement. The strikes targeted “infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for CENTCOM, said in the statement.
“At President Biden’s direction, US military forces conducted precision airstrikes in Deir ez-Zor Syria today. These precision strikes are intended to defend and protect US forces from attacks like the ones on August 15 against US personnel by Iran-backed groups,” he said, referring to last week’s attack on the Green Village base near the Iraqi border. That attack did not result in damage or injuries.
Biden, according to the statement, “gave the direction for these strikes pursuant to his Article II authority to protect and defend US personnel by disrupting or deterring attacks by Iran-backed groups.”
Buccino told CNN the US targeted a group of bunkers used for ammunition storage and logistics support by Iranian-backed groups in Syria. The US military monitored a total of 13 bunkers in the same complex extensively, Buccino said, totaling more than 400 hours of surveillance.
The strike was intended to target 11 of the bunkers, since the US could not be certain whether the other two bunkers were clear of people, Buccino said.
But shortly before CENTCOM carried out the strike, the military waved off two more of the bunkers because of a small group of people nearby. In the end, Buccino said the military struck nine bunkers in the complex in eastern Syria.
The goal of the strike was to destroy the bunkers, Buccino said, and according to an initial assessment, no one was killed as a result.
“The strike in eastern Syria was in response to attacks by Iran-backed groups against US forces in Syria on August 15th and demonstrates our resolve to defend US forces and equipment,” said Gen. Erik Kurilla, the commander of US Central Command.
Though the airstrike on the bunkers was in response to the August 15 attack, Buccino said the bunkers were not used by Iranian-backed militias to carry out that particular attack.
The base attacked earlier this month holds a “small number” of coalition forces, including US service members, one official previously said. Several of the rockets failed to launch and were recovered by forces from the US-led coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces. And earlier last week, multiple drones were repelled in an attack near the At-Tanf base in southern Syria.
At the time of last week’s strikes, the coalition did not say who was responsible for either of the attacks. However, Iranian-backed militias in the region have frequently targeted US troops in Syria and Iraq.
In January, the US military conducted strikes in Syria after indirect fire posed what a US-led coalition official called “an imminent threat” to troops near Green Village.
The US maintains approximately 900 troops in Syria, largely split between the At-Tanf base and the country’s eastern oil fields.
This story has been updated with additional details.