Monday, 12 Jul 2021 19:20
WASHINGTON, July 10 (Reuters) – U.S. forces in eastern Syria took indirect fire on Saturday but initial reports did not indicate any casualties or damage, a U.S. defense official told Reuters.
The incident was the latest in a series of attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria in recent days.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the attack occurred in Conoco, Syria.
U.S. diplomats and troops in Iraq and Syria were targeted in three rocket and drone attacks on Wednesday alone, including at least 14 rockets hitting an Iraqi air base hosting U.S. forces, wounding two American service members.
While there have not been immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks, analysts believed they were part of a campaign by Iranian-backed militias.
Iraqi militia groups aligned with Iran vowed to retaliate after U.S. strikes on the Iraqi-Syrian border killed four of their members last month.
Iran has denied supporting attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria and condemned U.S. air strikes on Iranian-backed groups.
The United States has been holding indirect talks with Iran aimed at bringing both nations back into compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was abandoned by the Trump administration. No date has been set for a next round of the talks, which adjourned on June 20.
Hardline members of the Iranian parliament have proposed a law to ban “any negotiations or initiation of negotiations” with the United States without parliament’s prior approval. The proposed law, entitled ‘Ban on Islamic Republic Authorities’ Negotiation with US officials’ aims to prevent officials from “again taking advantage” of insufficient parliamentary involvement.
If passed into legislation, unapproved talks with the US would be punishable with fines and exclusion from government service.
The lawmakers’ motion notes that the US broke promises after signing Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The US could do this, the motion claims, because those supporting the agreement concealed the “real contents despite Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s instructions” and “misled” lawmakers to acquire parliament’s approval. The JCPOA was considered a victory for Hassan Rouhani who had campaigned during his successful 2013 presidential campaign for a more flexible approach.
Despite vocal opposition to the JCPOA from some members, the parliament approved its implementing by 161 votes to 59 with 13 abstentions in October 2015. Ali Larijani, parliamentary speaker and former nuclear negotiator played an important role in the approval of the JCPOA. In a Clubhouse session on May 20 when he was accused of pushing for a hasty approval of the JCPOA in 2015, he it had been “the decision of nezam” (system) — a word often used to the Supreme Leader — and pointed out that the constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council, had approved the legislation within hours and without any objections, too.
A number of parliament members were disgruntled about the parliament’s approval of the JCPOA as was the flagship principlist newspaper Kayhan, a long-term critic of limiting Iran’s nuclear program.
Since 2002 Iranian and US officials have met over Afghanistan, Iraq and Tehran’s nuclear program. Washington is currently involved indirectly in Vienna talks to revive the JCPOA.