Airman Detained in Connection With Syria Blast That Wounded 4 Troops

Air Force syria

An F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, assigned to the 121st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during a mission in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, July 17, 2021. US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taylor Crul.

An American airman has been detained and could soon face charges in connection with an explosion that wounded several troops in April at a base in Syria.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek confirmed to Coffee or Die Magazine that the unidentified airman had been arrested in the United States on June 16 in connection with the blast at the Green Village base in eastern Syria. Four American service members were evaluated for minor injuries and possible traumatic brain injuries after the explosion.

“After reviewing the information in the investigation, the Airman’s commander made the decision to place him in pretrial confinement,” Stefanek wrote in an email to Coffee or Die.

The airman has not yet been charged.

Fort Carson Soldier Syria

Syrian Democratic Force soldiers conduct a patrol during a joint operation with US soldiers in Syria on May 8, 2021. US Army photo by Spc. Isaiah Scott.

Syrian Democratic Force soldiers conduct a patrol during a joint operation with US Army Soldiers in Syria on May 8, 2021. US Army photo by Spc. Isaiah Scott.

Officials originally reported that coalition forces had been attacked with artillery or another form of indirect fire that struck two support buildings on April 7. But a week later, the US military said the explosions were instead caused by “the deliberate placement of explosive charges” at an ammunition holding area and shower facility.

Two unnamed defense officials told CNN the attack had happened in the middle of the night and employed explosives that were “not insignificant,” containing more detonation power than a hand grenade does. The officials also said security video picked up “two instances of a figure moving quickly,” the network reported, although it’s not clear whether the video shows the same person in both instances.

Earlier in June, investigators revealed that they had identified a US service member as a potential suspect. The Army Criminal Investigation Division and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations are conducting a joint investigation of the incident.

US and coalition forces have been helping local troops fight against the Islamic State group since 2014, with American ground forces deploying to the country in 2015. Despite efforts by former President Donald Trump to withdraw all ground troops from Syria, around 900 US service members remain in the country.

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Hannah Ray Lambert is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine who previously covered everything from murder trials to high school trap shooting teams. She spent several months getting tear-gassed during the 2020-21 civil unrest in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not working, Hannah enjoys hiking, reading, and talking about authors and books on her podcast Between Lewis and Lovecraft.
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