A US AH-64 Apache attack helicopter flies over Baghouz, in the eastern Syrian Deir Ezzor province. File/AFP
There was no immediate acknowledgment by Syria's state-run media of the strikes hitting Deir Ez-Zor. Iran as well did not acknowledge the attack.
Opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and activist collective Deir Ezzor 24 said the airstrikes targeted the Ayash Camp run by the Fatimiyoun group. The war monitor reported that at least six Syrian and foreign militants were killed in the airstrikes.
The US military's Central Command said the strikes "took proportionate, deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize the risk of casualties.” It did not identify the targets, nor offer any casualty figures from the strikes, which the military said came at the orders of President Joe Biden.
"Today’s strikes were necessary to protect and defend US personnel," Central Command spokesman Col. Joe Buccino said in a statement.
The colonel added the attack was in response to an Aug. 15 attack targeting US forces. That attack saw drones allegedly launched by Iranian-backed militias target the Al Tanf Garrison used by American forces. US Central Command described the assault as causing "zero casualties and no damage” at the time.
Deir Ez-Zor is a strategic province that borders Iraq and contains oil fields. Iran-backed militia groups and Syrian forces control the area and have often been the target of Israeli war planes in previous strikes.
US forces entered Syria in 2015, backing allied forces in their fight against the Daesh group.
Biden’s decision to strike only in Syria and not in Iraq, at least for now, also gives the Iraqi government some breathing room as it carries out its own investigation of a Feb.15 attack that wounded Americans.
The latest casualties in the town of Saraqeb came as government forces captured two new villages on the southern edge of Idlib. The province has been the center point of a government push under the cover of airstrikes, according to opposition activists and pro-government media.
Militant-dominated Idlib has come under mounting bombardment in recent weeks, displacing tens of thousands of people in the northwestern region home to some three million.
Heartrending scenes of a newborn plucked alive from the rubble and a broken father clutching his dead daughter's hand have laid bare the human cost of violent earthquakes in Syria and Turkey that by Wednesday had claimed 7,800 lives.
The last two days have brought dramatic rescues, including small children emerging from mounds of debris more than 30 hours after Monday's pre-dawn quake. But there was also widespread despair and growing anger at the slow pace of rescue efforts in some areas.
The AFP cameraman captured a poignant picture of a Turkish father, Masoud Hanser, refusing to leave his dead daughter's hand under the rubble.