FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 29, 2024
WASHINGTON, DC – The Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) condemns the horrific attack that resulted in the tragic loss of life of three American troops and injured dozens of other US service members. It targeted Tower 22 US base, located within line of sight of the Rukban Internally Displaced Persons Camp (IDP) in Southern Syria bordering Jordan. This base, alongside the al-Tanf Garrison (ATG), has helped support SETF’s efforts to bring doctors and medical aid to besieged civilians. Iran Aligned Militia Groups (IAMGs) operating under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) command with the Assad regime providing safe haven and full logistical aid to these attacks are directly responsible and must be held fully accountable for this tragedy.
It is imperative that the Biden administration responds more forcefully and strategically than it has in the past to these unprovoked attacks on US bases. Only through a strong and resolved response will it deter further attacks on US bases in the region. US forces are being targeted because of their effectiveness in preventing Iran from achieving its expansionist aims. It is being targeted because it plays a crucial role in support of the besieged population of Rukban and in preventing the resurgence of ISIS. The brazen targeting of US forces by Iran requires a quick and resolute response. More importantly, it signals the failure of the administration’s stop-gap approach to the Middle East. Without a forceful, coherent policy focused on Iran’s role as a malign regional actor US forces will continue to be targeted. SETF Advisory board member Dr. Steven Heydemann said “This attack is a testing moment for the Biden administration. Its response needs to affirm, not undermine, the strategic value the US places on the role of US forces in eastern Syria.”
For the last few years SETF has been liaising regularly with the US military personnel deployed at the also recently targeted ATG in Syria to provide humanitarian aid to besieged civilians. They have shown tremendous commitment and humanity in helping us relieve the suffering of 8,000 innocent civilians besieged by the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran in the Rukban IDP Camp, located in the 55-kilometer deconfliction zone surrounding ATG. They continue to play a critical role in the delivery of aid to the Rukban IDP Camp under SETF-led “Operation Syrian Oasis”, as well as in the coordination with SETF to facilitate visits of medical doctors and humanitarian workers to the camp. It is due to these brave US servicemen and women that baby formula, books for schools, as well as critical food and medical aid can be accessed by displaced and besieged civilians. The SETF team and board members extend our deepest condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers and pray for the quick and full recovery of the injured service members.
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