Military officials have declined to say whether US forces, including Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 134th Field Artillery Regiment, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Ohio Army National Guard, conducted counter-fire on militiamen who attacked Mission Support Site Conoco in northeastern Syria on Jan. 4, 2023. Here, Charlie Battery fires an M777 howitzer on Dec. 4, 2022. US Army photo by Sgt. Julio Hernandez.
US forces and their Kurdish-led partners are probing a 107mm rocket attack targeting Mission Support Site Conoco in northeastern Syria.
A counterbattery radar hit placed the POO — point of origin — roughly 4.5 kilometers away from the US base, with two launches that impacted about 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 4.
US Central Command officials said the twin detonations didn’t cause any casualties or property damage to the base in Dayr al-Zawr province, which is located in a gas field near the Iraqi border.
“Attacks of this kind place coalition forces and the civilian populace at risk and undermine the hard-earned stability and security of Syria and the region,” said US Central Command spokesperson Col. Joe Buccino in a prepared statement.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, supporting Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, conduct a M777 howitzer exercise in northeastern Syria on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023. US Army National Guard photo courtesy of Spc. Benjamin Tierney.
Syrian Democratic Forces recovered an unfired rocket that was still cased in its crate.
When reached at CENTCOM, Buccino told Coffee or Die Magazine that investigators were “assessing the situation,” and he declined to name the militia suspected of launching the latest attack on the base.
But the timing of the attack is interesting.
A targeted US strike assassinated Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3, 2020, at Iraq’s Baghdad International Airport, triggering reprisal attacks and assassination operations by Iranian-backed militias across the Middle East.
CENTCOM officials declined to tell Coffee or Die the type of rockets that were fired, but war-ravaged Syria is brimming with Russian 107mm Katyusha rockets and similar Chinese Type 63 munitions, not to mention Iranian knockoffs such as the Fajr-1 and Haseb systems.
Iraqis lift a placard depicting Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, slain Iranian and Iraqi commanders, Qassem Soleimani, right, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and a slogan in Arabic reading "normalization is high treason," during a rally marking al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day in the central Iraqi shrine city of Najaf, on April 29, 2022. Photo by Ali Najafi/AF via Getty Images.
On Aug. 24, a similar attack by an Iranian-backed group armed with 122mm rockets wounded three US service members.
That triggered counterstrikes by US AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, AC-130 gunships, and M777 artillery that killed four militiamen and pulverized seven rocket launchers, CENTCOM said.
On Wednesday, CENTCOM officials declined to say whether US or partner forces conducted counterbattery fire or aerial strikes following the latest rocket attack.
No militia has claimed credit for the latest missile salvos, but Iran's state-controlled Press TV said the “American occupation forces” were “evidently petrified by the surprise attack” and “reportedly sealed all roads leading to the occupied military facility.”
According to Pentagon planners, roughly 2,500 US troops are stationed in Iraq and another 1,000 serve in Syria. Across the Middle East, CENTCOM counts more than 15,000 deployed personnel.
Read Next: CENTCOM: US, Partners, Beating ‘Degraded’ Islamic State Group
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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