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U.S. Service Member Arrested for Explosion on American Base in Syria

U.S. Army soldiers board a CH-47 Chinook helicopter on May 25, 2021 near the Turkish border in northeastern Syria. Getty
U.S. Army soldiers board a CH-47 Chinook helicopter on May 25, 2021 near the Turkish border in northeastern Syria. Getty

A member of the U.S. Air Force was arrested in connection with an attack on an American base in Syria, the military said Tuesday, months after an explosion injured four U.S. personnel in eastern Syria.

The U.S.-based airman was taken into custody Thursday, and is now in pretrial confinement while awaiting a hearing to decide whether to bring charges against him, Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said in a statement.

The military disclosed a U.S. service member was a “possible suspect” in the April attack on the Green Village base earlier this month, after concluding the blast was caused by “deliberate placement of explosive charges” rather than firing from outside the base.

The injured service members were treated for traumatic brain injuries, CNN reported.

The military hasn’t released the arrested airman’s name or possible charges, and his alleged motive is unclear.

The troops at Green Village are some of the roughly 900 American personnel stationed in eastern Syria to support the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mostly Kurdish group whose fight against the Islamic State is backed by the United States. The Islamic State—also known as ISIS—has virtually no remaining territory left, but fighting against the radical group still sometimes takes place. The region is tense: Iranian-backed militias that helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cling to power are active in the country’s east, and the Turkish military—which is opposed to both Assad’s government and the Kurds—is present in parts of northern Syria and has put pressure on Kurdish fighters. Militia groups backed by Iran are occasionally linked to rocket and mortar fire on U.S. bases in Syria and Iraq, and April’s attack on Green Village was initially believed to be another instance of “indirect fire” by one of these groups, but the military later began investigating it as an insider attack.

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