U.S. officials say they believe Iran was behind the drone attack last week at the U.S. military base in Syria, where American forces were being housed. There were reports that the U.S. military received a tip prior to the drone attack.
Officials said Monday the U.S. believe that Iran resourced and encouraged the attack, but that the drones were not launched from Iran. They were Iranian drones, and Iran appears to have facilitated their use. The officials were speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss details that have not been made public.
The officials said they believe the attacks involved as many as five drones laden with explosive charges, and that they hit both the U.S. side of al-Tanf garrison and the side where Syrian opposition forces stay. U.S. forces are based on a road that serves as a vital link from Tehran to Iranian-backed forces that train Syrian forces to combat Islamic State militants.
A military official reported to Fox News that roughly 200 U.S. Troops were evacuated by C-130 transport plane before the attack occurred last. week. About two dozen troops remained at the small base, the official added, and there were no reported injuries or deaths as a result of the attack.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby declined to provide details when asked about the report during a news conference Monday. He called it a complex, coordinated and deliberate attack, and said the U.S. has seen similar ones before from Shia militia groups that are backed by Iran, but would not go into specifics, nor update on munitions used in the attack.
Kirby also declined to say if troops were warned ahead of time or whether the U.S. intends to make a military response. “The protection and security of our troops overseas remains a paramount concern for the secretary,” Kirby said, referring to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, “and that if there is to be a response, it will be at a time and a place and a manner of our choosing, and we certainly won’t go ahead of those kinds of decisions.”
Reports show there are around 900 U.S. troops remaining in Syria and are there to assist efforts to combat the Islamic State. Thousands of ISIS prisoners are there, including fighters and family members still in Syria, guarded by U.S backed Kurdish forces. Some fear if U.S. troops depart, those fighters will get out.