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Iran-backed militias test new front with Washington’s Syrian Kurdish allies

A US base in northeast Syria has been attacked twice so far by rockets launched in the last month from within the country, and officials with the Syrian Defense Forces point to Iran-backed Shiite militias.

RAQQA/SHADADDI, Syria — “Boom, boom, boom!” The steady burst of munitions emanating from a sprawling US base in a desert outpost in Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria has come to sound as natural as the crowing of cocks and the bleating of lambs to the inhabitants of Telle, a mud-caked Arab village that sits on its edge. “When we don’t hear those explosions, that is when we worry; that is when we lose our sleep,” said a local man who would identify himself only as Saleh.

“There are always noises coming from the base,” said Nawaf al-Abed, who grows vegetables for a living. “We don’t know if the Americans are firing or receiving fire,” he mused. “There is a wall between us. They keep to themselves.”

“I am afraid of the base. There is always the sound of gunfire,” said 15-year old Abdel Kader. Like many here, he dropped out of school to help sustain his 17-member family, including multiple half-siblings and his ailing father’s second spouse. “I am not curious about it. I have no desire to go there.”

Since Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked and killed around 1,200 Israelis in a single day, the din has grown markedly louder as Iran-back Shiite militias continue to target coalition bases in Iraq and Syria with rockets and suicide drones. The action is part of a broader campaign to harass and ultimately drive US forces out of the region, with Yemen’s Houthi militias joining in the fight in the Red Sea. These Iran-backed groups hold the United States accountable for Israel's subsequent onslaught against Gaza, which has claimed at least 15,900 Palestinian lives so far.

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