The Associated Press (AP) reported that a U.S. drone strike targeted a truck of an Iranian proxy militia in eastern Syria today, destroying the vehicle.
According to two Iraqi militia officials, the drone strike did not result in any casualties. However, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a civilian watchdog for the Syrian civil war, reports that the driver was killed in the strike.
SOHR reporters stated that the drone hit an armored vehicle of the Iraqi Hezbollah faction which is part of the Iraqi Al-Hashd al-Sha. The strike took place in the al-Swiah region at the border between Iraq and Syria.
The Iraqi militia officials, who asked to be unidentified since they are not authorized to speak with the media, said that the truck belonged to the Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, (KSS) which is active along the Iraq-Syria border.
The militia declined to say what the vehicle was carrying. They added that the drone fired a warning shot which allowed the driver to escape. Syrian state national television said the vehicle was carrying food and repeated that there were no casualties in the strike. However, SOHR reported that the targeted vehicle carried arms and ammunition.
Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada
KSS was founded in 2013. It is an Iranian-led and financed Iraqi militia that has fought in both Iraq and Syria. It is closely connected to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Houthis in Yemen. In fact, the group received funding directly from Iran’s Quds Force. The group also maintains close ties to Hezbollah and the Badr Organization.
While technically an Iraqi militia of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), it doesn’t answer to the Iraqi military, hence why it is operating in Syria.
The leader of KSS is Abu Mustafa al Sheibani, a U.S.-designated terrorist who also assisted in forming the Quds-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) and Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) militias that have been attacking U.S. forces in both Iraq and Syria.
In June of last year, the Republican Study Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives recommended designating KSS as a terrorist group. The recommendation also included other PMF factions: the Badr Organization, Kata’ib al-Imam Ali, Liwa Abu al-Fadhal al-Abbas, and Jund al-Islam, according to the Counter Extremism Project.
US Drone Strike Comes as Militia Attacks Continue
This latest drone strike comes amid increasing tensions in the region between the U.S. military and Iranian-backed Iraqi militias. The militias are now attacking U.S. targets daily. The U.S. has targeted militias in response.
After President Biden authorized limited airstrikes on Iranian proxy militias on June 27 following several militia attacks, the leader of the KSS, threatened further attacks on the United States.
Operation Inherent Resolve and its spokesman Army Colonel Wayne Marotto have not yet commented on the reported drone strike.