FILE PHOTO: Afghan fighters (Fatemiyoun Division) financed and trained by Iran, in Syria . Source: Kayhan London

By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali

 – At least one U.S. military service member in Syria suffered a minor injury and up to three suspected Iran-backed militants were killed on Wednesday, the U.S. military said, in the second consecutive day of violence.

The latest exchange of fire underscored soaring military tensions even amid diplomatic efforts between Tehran and the West to try to save Iran‘s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers. Read full story

It came a day after President Joe Biden authorized U.S. air strikes in Syria on an ammunition depot and other facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran‘s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The U.S. military said the suspected Iran-backed militants launched two separate attacks starting at approximately 7:20 p.m. local time in Syria (1720 GMT).

Several rockets landed inside the perimeter of Mission Support Site Conoco in northeast Syria and were quickly followed by rocket fire near Mission Support Site Green Village, it said in a statement.

That triggered a U.S. response from helicopters that, according to initial assessments, killed two or three militants conducting one of the attacks, it said.

Central Command said the wounded U.S. service member had been at Mission Support Site Conoco and returned to duty after treatment. Two other servicemembers were under evaluation for minor injuries, it said.

Some injuries, including brain trauma, can manifest after an incident.

“We are closely monitoring the situation,” General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, who leads Central Command, said in a statement.

The latest attacks by the suspected Iran-backed groups could be retaliation for Biden’s air strikes on Tuesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iran denied having any link to sites targeted on Tuesday by the United States. The Biden-authorized air strikes involved eight U.S. fighter jets — four F-16 and four F-15Es — and hit nine targets in Syria, the military said.

U.S. forces first deployed into Syria during the Obama administration’s campaign against Islamic State, partnering with a Kurdish-led group called the Syrian Democratic Forces. There are about 900 U.S. troops in Syria, most of them in the east.

Iran-backed militias established a foothold in Syria while fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad during Syria’s civil war.

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(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; additional reporting by Suleiman Al-KhalidiEditing by Chris Reese and Cynthia Osterman)