A U.S. Airman has been arrested in connection with a suspected insider attack at a U.S. base in Syria in April, during which someone planted a bomb that injured four fellow service members when it exploded.
In a statement first provided to CNN, U.S. Air Force spokeswomen Ann Stefanek said “As part of an ongoing investigation, on June 16, an Airman was taken into custody stateside in conjunction with the attack in Green Village, Syria.”
Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the name for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria initially attributed an explosion at the Green Village base in eastern Syria to outside indirect fire weapons, but later determined the evidence showed a “deliberate placement of explosive charges by an unidentified individual(s)” indicating someone had brought the explosives onto the base to carry out the attack.
The April explosion damaged an ammunition holding area and shower facility on the base. OIR officials initially reported two U.S. service members were wounded, but later said two more U.S. service members were also wounded. All four U.S. service members were eventually diagnosed and treated for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) but have been able to return to duty.
Earlier this month, the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) announced it had identified a U.S. service member as a possible suspect in the April insider bombing attack. CID spokesman Patrick Barnes said the suspected service member had been brought back stateside while investigators continued to study the incident.
“After reviewing the information in the investigation, the Airman’s commander made the decision to place him in pretrial confinement,” Stefanek added in her statement to CNN on Tuesday.
Stefanek did not identify the Airman that had been arrested and no charges have been announced.
“We won’t release the individual’s name unless charges are preferred,” she said. “It is too early in the process for a charge sheet. It will be available if charges are preferred.”
At this time, it is unclear what possible motive the Airman may have had for his alleged involvement in the April insider bombing attack.
According to CNN, military officials expected charges to be filed within the next few weeks.
OIR began in Iraq and Syria in 2014 as an operation to counter the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group, which had captured a swath of territory in eastern Syria and western Iraq. In December, U.S. forces in Iraq officially shifted from a combat role to a support role. The U.S. forces in Syria continue to serve in a combat role. In just this last week, U.S.-led coalition forces captured a senior ISIS leader. Around 900 U.S. troops remain in Syria.