Kata'ib Hezbollah denies involvement in attacks against US forces in Syria

Kata'ib Hezbollah denies involvement in attacks against US forces in Syria

Shafaq News/ Iraq's Kata'ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed paramilitary group in Iraq, denied any involvement in the recent attacks against US forces in Syria on Saturday.

The group's security official, Abu Ali al-Askari, confirmed in a tweet today that their headquarters did not suffer any damage from any US strike.

"While we congratulate the Syrian people on the popular resistance operations to regain their rights and resources from the American occupiers, we confirm that Kata'ib Hezbollah was not involved in the attacks against US military bases in Syria," al-Askari said.

The security official added that "If the enemy commits any foolishness by targeting our fighters or headquarters, Kata'ib Hezbollah will directly respond to the US presence in the region."

Strikes on Iranian-linked bases in Syria would draw a quick response, an Iranian security spokesperson said after the reported death of 19 people in one of the deadliest exchanges between the U.S. and Iranian-aligned forces in years.

"Any pretext to attack bases created at the request of the Syrian government to deal with terrorism and Islamic State elements in this country will be met with an immediate counter-response," Keyvan Khosravi, spokesperson for Iran's top security body, was quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency Nournews.

Iran says its forces and allied fighters are in Syria at the request of Damascus, and sees U.S. forces as occupiers.

The death toll in U.S. air strikes on pro-Iran installations in eastern Syria has risen to 19 fighters, a Syrian war monitoring group said on Saturday.

The U.S. carried out strikes in eastern Syria in response to a drone attack on Thursday that left one American contractor dead and another wounded along with five U.S. troops. Washington said the attack was of Iranian origin.

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air raids killed three Syrian troops, 11 Syrian fighters in pro-government militias and five non-Syrian fighters who were aligned with the government.

The monitor's head Rami Abdel Rahman could not specify the nationalities of the foreigners. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the toll.

The initial exchange prompted a string of tit-for-tat strikes. Another U.S. service member was wounded, according to officials, and local sources said suspected U.S. rocket fire hit more locations in eastern Syria.

President Joe Biden on Friday warned Iran that the United States would "act forcefully" to protect Americans.

Iran has been a major backer of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria's 12-year conflict.

Iran's proxy militias, including Lebanese group Hezbollah and pro-Tehran Iraqi groups, hold sway in swathes of eastern, southern and northern Syria and in suburbs around the capital.

Tehran's growing entrenchment in Syria has drawn regular Israeli air strikes but American aerial raids are more rare. The U.S. has been raising the alarm about Iran's drone program.

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