US ups the ante in Syria amid tough nuclear talks

TEHRAN, Aug. 27 (MNA) – For the second time in less than two weeks, the US launched attacks on targets in Syria in what it described as a “response.” But Iran has offered a new version of reality.

On Thursday, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that it launched attacks in northern Syria against what it called “Iran-affiliated militants.”

“Over the past 24 hours, in response to yesterday’s rocket attacks on Mission Support Site Conoco and Mission Support Site Green Village in northeast Syria, CENTCOM forces struck at Iran-affiliated militants in the area with AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, AC-130 gunships, and M777 artillery, resulting in four enemy fighters killed and seven enemy rocket launchers destroyed,” CENTCOM said in a statement. 

The latest US attack came on the heels of another attack that took place on Tuesday last week. CENTCOM Communication Director Colonel Joe Buccino said in a statement on Tuesday that “at President Biden’s direction, US military forces conducted precision airstrikes in Deir ez-Zor Syria” that were “intended to defend and protect the US forces from attacks like the ones on August 15 against US personnel by Iran-backed groups. The US strikes targeted infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

Iran was quick to respond to US allegations. It denied any connection to the targeted groups and highlighted the illegality of US presence in Syria. 

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan'ani condemned US aggression on Syria. “Kan'ani has strongly condemned the US Army’s aggression on Wednesday morning against the people and infrastructure of Syria as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” the Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

He added that the continued presence of US forces in parts of Syrian soil is against international law and constitutes a breach of Syria’s sovereignty and occupation. Kan'ani noted, “Hence, the US must immediately leave Syria and stop plundering the country’s oil resources and grains.”

On Friday, the spokesman reiterated that position, saying that the US had no legal right to station troops in Syria. “The US has called the recent attacks by its transgressive army against popular groups and counterterrorism forces of Syria ‘a direct response to attacks and continued threats against the United States troops’,” Kan'ani said on Twitter, adding, “The truth: the presence of the occupying America in Syria in itself and its aggression against the defenders of Syria’s independence and territorial integrity is illegal and condemned.”

The US escalation in Syra comes against a backdrop of tough negotiations between Iran and the West. On Wednesday, the US gave its response to an Iranian response on the nuclear talks concurrently with the Syria strikes, sparking speculations over its strategy toward Iran. 

Some have tried to establish a link between the Syria strikes and the talks in Vienna over reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), saying that the US, with its attacks, seeks to imply that it is no rush for a deal with Iran. But others believe that the US attacks are a message that the US would not stop its illegal attacks in the region even after signing a deal with Iran. 

First published in Tehran Times

News Code 190697

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