U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles Carry Out Air Strike On Coalition Headquarters in Syria That Remaining Troops Just Vacated

A U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle breaks away after refueling with a KC-10 Extender from the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, July 10, 2019 within U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. The fighter performs air-to-air and air-to-ground missions using the pilot to detect, target and engage aerial threats, and a weapons system officer to designate ground targets. The F-15 is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air superiority over the battlefield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Keifer Bowes)

U.S. F-15E bombed Lafarge Cement Factory, an anti-ISIS base in northern Syria, because Turkey-backed fighters closed in.

Two U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, carried out an air strike on Lafarge Cement Factory, to destroy an ammunition cache and prevent it from being seized by Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, or TFSA, that along with the Turkish forces continue to move south with the goal of uprooting the Kurdish fighters, which Turkey views as terrorists that threaten its national interests.

According to Col. Myles B. Caggins III, OIR Spokesman, the US-led coalition forces had just completely vacated the Lafarge Cement Factory, in northern Syria, as part of the withdrawal of forces that follows U.S. President Donald Trump’s tacit approval to Recep Tayyip Erdogan to launch an invasion into northern Syria.

The Lafarge Cement Factory, that had been the headquarters of the anti-Daesh coalituin in Syria, had started been evacuated on Oct. 15, when the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had left and set fire to their facilities and equipment:

Once the remaining US forces, who remained in separate facilities, had also vacated the Cement Factory, the two Strike Eagles wiped out the base.

While there is no confirmation about the U.S. Air Force unit involved in the air strike, it’s worth noticing that 18 F-15Es belonging to the 389th Fighter Squadron of the 366th Fighter Wing from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, have recently replaced the Strike Eagles of the 335th FS with the 4th FW from Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, at Al-Azraq Air Base, in Jordan.

Aircraft spotters noticed the aircraft (flying as “TABOR 11-16”, “TABOR 21-26” and “TABOR 31-36”) during their stopover at RAF Lakenheath on their way to the Middle East.

A U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle conducts a combat air patrol mission over an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Sept. 24, 2019 The F-15E Strike Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air supremacy over the battlefield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

As you probably remember, late on Oct. 6, 2019, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a brief statement following a call between President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial “Caliphate,” will no longer be in the immediate area,” the statement announced.

The decision to pull out all U.S. forces from northern Syria thus giving the go ahead to a Turkish intervention in Syria was then confirmed by Trump in a series of Tweets on Oct. 7, 2019.

Dubbed Operation Peace Spring the Turkish operation was officially launched on Oct. 9, 2019, and started targeting the once U.S.-backed and predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey views as terrorists.

As Joseph Trevithick wrote at the War Zone “At the core of the issue is Turkey’s long-standing contention that the American-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the bulk of which are ethnic Kurds who also belong to Syrian Kurdish groups known commonly as the People’s Protection Units, or by the Kurdish acronym YPG, are functionally indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. Both the United States and Turkey have designated the PKK, which has operated in Turkey, northern Syria, and northern Iraq, as a terrorist group. However, the U.S. government insists that they are two distinct entities and that the SDF is itself separate from the YPG. The actual extent of the direct coordination and cooperation between the YPG and PKK is unclear, but it seems indisputable that the two groups are, at least, in regular contact.”

The invasion launched by Ankara and the subsequent proximity of TFSA forces to the U.S. forces still in the Syrian region south of the Turkish board has already created some pretty tense situation. On Oct. 15, U.S. F-15s (most probably Strike Eagles) and Army AH-64E Apache helicopters were called in to perform a “show of force” against Turkish-backed militias who had come “very close” to U.S. troops near Ain Issa:

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.