6 Kurdish fighters killed in Syria drone attack

Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

BEIRUT -- A drone attack on a base housing U.S. troops in eastern Syria killed six allied Kurdish fighters late Sunday in the first significant attack in Syria or Iraq since the U.S. launched retaliatory strikes over the weekend against Iran-backed militias that have been targeting its forces in the region.

The U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Monday the attack hit a training ground at al-Omar base in Syria's eastern province of Deir el-Zour, where the forces' commando units are trained. No casualties were reported among U.S. troops.

An umbrella group of Iran-backed Iraqi militias, dubbed the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, released a video claiming responsibility for the attack and showing them launching a drone from an unspecified location.

In late January, a drone attack by the same group killed three U.S. troops and wounded dozens more at a desert base in Jordan. The U.S. military launched dozens of retaliatory strikes targeting Iran-backed militant groups in western Iraq and eastern Syria and also struck the Houthis in Yemen.

The Syrian Democratic Forces initially accused "Syrian regime-backed mercenaries" of carrying out Sunday's attack but in a second statement blamed "Iran-backed militias" after investigating the attack.

The umbrella group has launched dozens of drone attacks on U.S. military bases and troops in Iraq and Syria, and has called for the withdrawal of American soldiers from both countries.

The attack comes as tensions flare across the Middle East amid the Israel-Hamas war, which was sparked by Hamas' rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Meanwhile, Britain-based opposition war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least seven allied Syrian fighters were killed in the attack on Sunday and at least 18 others wounded, some in critical condition.

Also Monday, Yemen's internationally recognized presidential council sacked the prime minister in an unexpected move.

A decree from the council appointed Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak as the country's new prime minister. Bin Mubarak, who is close to Saudi Arabia, replaced Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, who was Yemen's premier since 2018.

The council didn't give the reason behind the reshuffle.

Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war since 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthis overran the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north.

A Saudi-led coalition intervened months later and has been battling the rebels since 2015 to try and restore the internationally recognized government to power.

The war has devastated Yemen, already the poorest Arab country, and created one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters. More than 150,000 people, including fighters and civilians, have been killed.

In recent months, the Houthis engaged in negotiations with Saudi Arabia, which has sought an exit from the stalemated war. The two sides said they have achieved positive results to revive an expired cease-fire. The Houthi-Saudi talks have been part of broader efforts to find a political settlement to the conflict.

The Houthis have attacked shipping routes in the Red Sea as part of what they say is their response to Israel's campaign against the Palestinian militants, who are -- like the Houthis -- backed by Iran.

Information for this article was contributed by Ahmed Al-Haj and Samy Magdy of The Associated Press.

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