U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended weekend airstrikes on Iran-backed militias as U.S. forces in Syria came under rocket fire near al-Omar oil field. File photo by Ronen Zvulun/UPI/Pool | License Photo
June 28 (UPI) -- U.S. forces exchanged fire with attackers Monday after an American base in eastern Syria was targeted with rockets, military officials said.
Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the U.S.-led task force in Syria, announced on Twitter that a facility housing American troops near al-Omar oil field was "attacked by multiple rockets," adding there were no injuries and damage was being assessed.
"U.S. forces in Syria, while under multiple rocket attack, acted in self-defense and conducted counter-battery artillery fire at rocket launching positions," Marotto added in a second tweet.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack but video of the incident was shared on Telegram social media channels used by an Iran-backed militia that was targeted by airstrikes from U.S. forces on Sunday, The Washington Post reported.
U.S. officials said the weekend strikes were "defensive precision airstrikes" targeting facilities operated by Kata'ib Hezbollah and Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada and were meant to stem and deter militia attacks on U.S. forces.
The strikes, however, prompted condemnation from the Iraqi government, which described it as a "blatant" violation of national sovereignty that breached international conventions.
"Iraq reiterates its refusal to be an arena for settling scores," Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the decision to launch the strikes in a news conference from Rome while attending a meeting regarding stability in Syria and combatting the Islamic State terror group.
"We took necessary, appropriate, deliberate action that is designed to limit the risk of escalation, but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message," Blinken said.