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Unprecedented Israeli Strikes Target Iraqi Shia Militias In Syria

A day after a mysterious airstrike close to the Iraq-Syria border reportedly killed over 30 Syrian government soldiers and Iraqi paramilitary forces backed by Iran, a US official has told CNN the attack was carried out by Israel and not by the US coalition.

Syrian state media blamed the strike on the US-led coalition — though in the immediate aftermath any level of confirmation or evidence was hard to come by. The claims prompted the US coalition spokesman to issue a formal denial, calling Syria’s accusation “misinformation” as US-backed SDF forces are only operating east of the Euphrates, and not near Abu Kamal, which lies west, according to the statement.

If confirmed it would mark the first time in the war that Iraq’s paramilitary forces have been targeted by Israel. The Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU, or PMF) have increasingly coordinated with the Syrian Army as well as pro-Syrian irregular Shia fighters during anti-ISIS operations along Syria’s eastern border of late.

The incident marks the second time in three weeks that the Syrian Army has accused the US Coalition of bombing their troops in southeast Syria; however it is uncertain as yet how Damascus will respond to this new claim of Israeli responsibility.

The CNN source is an unnamed US official, who gave no other details on the strike, including how many jets conducted the mission or the flight path into the Iraq-Syria border area, though CNN notes, “The area is some distance from Israel and Israeli jets would have had to overcome significant logistical hurdles to strike that area.”

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