US Army deploys Patriot and AN/TWQ-1 Avenger air defense missile system in Eastern Syria

In late February 2021, photos purportedly showing short-range AN/TWQ-1 Avenger air defense missile systems being transported on a highway from Iraq to Syria emerged on social media. They were likely being brought to U.S. troops in Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor region, Asharq Al-Awsat reports.
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AN/TWQ-1 Avenger short-range air defense system (Picture source: U.S. MoD)

With its FIM-92 Stinger missile launchers, the Avenger is designed for protecting infantry against low-flying aircraft, cruise missiles, helicopters, and drones. “Until early last year, bases hosting U.S. troops in Iraq had no air defense systems. Their vulnerability was demonstrated when Iran attacked two of them with ballistic missiles in January 2020, in a retaliatory strike for the U.S. assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike, Asharq Al-Awsat reminds. The U.S. has since deployed high-altitude MIM-104 Patriot missiles to these bases alongside short-range C-RAM (Counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar) systems.

However, the AN/TWQ-1 Avenger is a much more suitable system for providing ground forces protection against drones, as in early 2020, U.S. troops deployed in Deir Ezzor’s oil fields were targeted by improvised drones capable of dropping small mortar munitions which were apparently made using a 3D printer.

It said Iran has continued to maintain a presence in former ISIS territory in eastern Syria in part to protect its logistics routes and also to degrade ISIS’s operational capabilities. According to the report, Iran likely continues to develop plans for operations against American positions across the region, including in Syria. It noted that Tehran has attempted to recruit local Syrians to collect intelligence on U.S. and Coalition forces in Syria and could attempt to leverage these individuals to conduct attacks on its behalf.


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