The U.S. military intercepted and shot down a small drone that was believed to be threatening a U.S. base in southern Syria Tuesday, just weeks after the same base was attacked by drones and rocket fire. It is believed to have been launched by Iranian proxy militias in the region. 

Capt. Bill Urban, the spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said that two drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) were tracked entering the airspace around Al-Tanf Garrison on Tuesday evening. “As one of the UAS continued its course deeper into the Al-Tanf Deconfliction Zone, it was assessed as demonstrating hostile intent and was shot down,” Urban said.

The drone was taken down by an air-to-air defense system. The second small drone turned and left the area. No casualties or damage to the facilities were reported. 

The al-Tanf base is in a strategic area near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders that includes the strategic M2 highway that enables Iranian-backed militias to travel all the way from Tehran to southern Lebanon. The U.S. troops at the base train Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to fight against ISIS fighters in the region.

Now the question remains, will the U.S. respond to this latest threat to U.S. troops and facilities in the region, or will there be more of the threats of retaliation with little action taken? 

Iranian drone during an army exercise dubbed ‘Zulfiqar 1400’, in the coastal area of the Gulf of Oman, Iran, in November. Iranian military photo-release

This is the second attack in weeks at al-Tanf. In an October 20 attack, five so-called “suicide drones” attacked the base, followed by rocket fire that damaged facilities at the base but resulted in no casualties among the U.S. troops. Thanks to a timely warning by Israeli intelligence, American troops were able to take cover, a big reason why there were no casualties. 

In that attack, the five drones crashed into the base. However, only two of the drones carrying a mixture of high explosives, shrapnel, and ball bearings exploded. The other three drones were examined and identified as being made in Iran. There was no doubt regardless of who was behind the attack when Iran proclaimed the attack as “a major success” and threatened more attacks would follow. 

The Iranian government denied any involvement, claiming that there was no proof of Iranian involvement. However, a site run by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said the strike was a response to the U.S. allowing Israeli attacks on “resistance” forces in eastern Syria. Militia commanders, it said, concluded that they “must pull the teeth of the snake.”