Air attacks have struck eastern Syria along the Iraqi border, hitting Iran-backed fighters and inflicting casualties, a Syrian war monitor, Iranian state television and Iraqi paramilitary officers have said.
The number of casualties has not been confirmed but some of those killed in the attack late on Tuesday were Iranian nationals, according to two Iraqi paramilitary officers. The United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 14 people were killed in the raids, mostly fighters.
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The attacks hit a convoy of “fuel tankers and trucks loaded with weapons” for the fighters in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Az Zor, the Syrian Observatory said.
It is not yet clear who was behind the raid but the United States military has carried out similar attacks in the past.
The US military has, however, so far denied involvement. Army Major Rachael L Jeffcoat said that “no US forces or US-led coalition (members) conducted an airstrike in al-Qaim, Iraq, on the border with Syria”.
The convoy of 22 tanker trucks was travelling from Iran to Lebanon, an official in the Iraqi border guard said. Ten trucks were hit, of which four were “completely burnt”, after entering Syrian territory through the Al-Qaim – Abu Kamal border crossing.
The Deir Ezzor 24, an activist collective, reported three air strikes targeting Iran-backed militias in the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal and nearby areas. It had no immediate word on casualties.
Earlier, members of Iraqi paramilitary groups operating in the area said an air attack on a convoy carrying fuel across the Iraqi border into Syria killed at least 10 people late on Tuesday.
Iranian state television Press TV claimed the convoy was carrying Iranian oil to Lebanon through Syria, but offered no casualty details. It also claimed that the convoy attack was carried out by US drones and helicopters, adding that the attack took place after eight of the trucks had crossed into Syria.
Pro-Iran fighters have a major presence around the Iraqi-Syria border.
Iran is a major supporter of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, sending thousands of fighters to help Syrian government troops in the country’s 11-year war against the country’s opposition.
In August, the US military carried out air raids in Deir Az Zor targeting Iran-backed fighters after a rocket attack left several US soldiers lightly wounded. At least two fighters described by US Central Command as “suspected Iran-backed militants” were killed. The Pentagon said the strikes were a message to Iran.