Iranian-backed groups may have targeted an oil field in Syria and the Al-Asad base in Iraq, according to reports on Monday. Although the first reports were unclear, the overall picture is that Iran could be moving to target US forces in the region.
This move could be in response to the seizing of oil by the US off a Greek island several days ago. Iran has already moved to grab two Greek ships in retaliation. The US has condemned Iran, as has France and Greece.
Iranian media said that “horrific” explosions were heard at the Asad base in Iraq. The report appears to confirm pro-Iran groups were behind the attack or that Iran wants to highlight their possible involvement.
Rising tensions in the region
Tensions are heating up in the region. The reports of the rocket attack spread on social media on the evening of May 30 by numerous small Arabic websites as well as social media commentators who follow Iraq reports about the attack on Asad base. This base has been targeted by Iran before, specifically in January 2020 when Iran used ballistic missiles against it. Iran has targeted US forces that are present at the base.
In another report, Anadolu news in Turkey claimed that there was a rocket attack on the Omar oil field in eastern Syria. “Rockets were fired at the US-controlled Al-Omar oil field in eastern Syria early on Monday.” The report said that US personnel are present at this area.
In the past, Iranian-backed groups stationed near Deir Ezzor have targeted areas in eastern Syria along the Euphrates river where the US has forces backing the SDF. The SDF is the main group the US works with in Syria that has played the main role in defeating ISIS.
“The rockets, fired from regions where Iran-backed foreign terror groups are known to be operational, did not hit the oil field and fell nearby,” Anadolu wrote. “There have been no reports of damage or casualties so far, according to Anadolu Agency correspondents in the area. US forces carried out retaliatory artillery and rocket strikes, they added.”
Iran’s history of drone attacks
The Omar field area was attacked last June and July as well and was also targeted in January. Asad base was also targeted last July. Air defenses also shot down drones targeting Asad base in January of this year.
Pro-Iran groups use drones, as well as 107mm and 122mm rockets in attacks in Iraq and Syria. These groups have carried out dozens of attacks since 2019 targeting US forces. They have also targeted a Turkish base in northern Iraq. They have targeted Erbil and Erbil International Airport, where US forces are located and also targeted an area near the new US consulate being built in Erbil.
Erbil is the capital of the Kurdistan Autonomous region. Iran has also targeted Kurdish dissidents and Iranian media has said Iran has targeted “Mossad” in northern Iraq. This comes in the context of Iranian regime’s anger over the assassination of a key IRGC commander recently and an incident at Parchin in Iran. Iran recently showcased a new drone base. Israel has warned against travel to Turkey due to Iran’s threats.
Iran is likely considering ramping up attacks on the US in Iraq and Syria in part due to tensions over the tanker that was seized.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Iran on May 30. “The United States calls on Iran to immediately release the two Greek vessels, along with their cargoes and their crews.
Reuters reported on May 26 that “the United States has confiscated Iranian oil held on a Russian-operated ship near Greece and will send the cargo to the United States aboard another vessel, three sources familiar with the matter said. It was unclear whether the cargo was impounded because it was Iranian oil or due to the sanctions on the tanker over its Russian nexus. Iran and Russia are facing separate US sanctions.” The Iranian-flagged Pegas was targeted by the US for sanctions.
Greece has accused Iran of piracy for seizing its tankers. “These actions are tantamount to acts of piracy,” the Greek foreign ministry said in a statement. The Greek tankers are the Delta Poseidon and Prudent Warrior, according to reports. Bloomberg and other media have expressed concern about what this might mean for oil markets.
Source » jpost