Updated 10/26 6:20 PM EST
In a report from local witnesses later confirmed by a Syrian government spokesman, Two US helicopters landed in the Syrian border town of Al-Sukkariya while others remained in the air and eight American soldiers exited. The soldiers killed at least eight people in the attack, and wounded 14 others before reboarding the helicopters and returning to Iraqi territory.
The US military has yet to officially confirm the strike, the first US strike on Syrian soil, but an unnamed US official confirmed the strike, saying that due to Syrian inaction they were now “taking matters into our own hands” with regards to foreign fighters.
Israel’s Channel 10 reports that unnamed western defense officials told them that the troops were carrying out a military operation against “al-Qaeda activists” in Syria. Witnesses say those killed were construction workers.
It has been speculated that the attack might be related to US military operations in the area, but there really haven’t been any. Major General John Kelly described security incidents in that area of Iraq as “almost meaningless now” and was reportedly optimistic about cutting troops in the area.
The attack comes as particularly surprising considering the US was reported earlier this month to be mulling lifting sanctions against Syria in light of their indirect peace talks with Israel. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem had said there was “good progress” in a dialogue aimed at improving US-Syrian relations. Syria has reportedly summoned the US Charges d’Affaires to officially complain about what it calls an attack on its sovereignty.