The U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed that bombs dropped by F-15E jets over eastern Syria caused casualties on site.
Two F-15E Strike Eagles dropped seven, precision-guided munitions, which totally destroyed nine facilities and partially destroyed two others, functionally destroying them, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.
The airstrike was conducted against the infrastructure used by Iranian-backed militant groups, Kirby told reporters today.
"The strike was authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq and to ongoing threats to those personnel. We recognize the significance of this operation as the first of its kind under the new administration of President Joe Biden," he said.
The structures were in the city of Abu-Kamal, Syria, near a terrorist entry-control point close to the Syria-Iraq border, Kirby said, adding that the location is known to facilitate activity by Iranian-allied militia groups.
"We have preliminary details about casualties on site, but I won't be able to discuss additional details at this time because our battle-damage assessment is ongoing," Kirby said, adding this response was conducted together with diplomatic measures, including consultation with coalition partners and notification to Congressional leadership before the strikes.
The purpose for striking those targets was twofold, according to Kirby: to clearly try to make an impact on the groups and their ability to conduct future attacks and to send a clear signal that the United States is going to protect its people and its interests and those of its partners in the region.
"These targets were chosen carefully, very deliberately," Kirby asserted.
He added that Russia was contacted just prior to the strike. "The Russians were contacted just prior to the strike using the deconfliction mechanism that is in place,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S. informed Russia just minutes before the airstrikes were carried out. “Our military was warned 4 or 5 minutes in advance. Of course, even if we talk about de-conflict, as is customary in relations between Russian and American servicemen, this does not give anything," he told the press-conference in Moscow.
He further accused the U.S. for staying in Syria “illegally” and “violating all international norms,” including those by U.N. Security Council.
Earlier, Maria Zakharova, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said the country “strongly condemns” the airstrikes.