sergeant. David D. Dezwaan Jr., an explosive ordnance disposal expert assigned to the 75th Air Force Base Wing, Hill Air Force Base, was charged by the Air Force, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice , aggravated assault; dereliction of duty; destroy military property; reckless endangerment; access a government computer for an unauthorized purpose and obtain classified information.
The charges come after a criminal investigation into the incident that took place in Green Village, Syria. Two sets of explosives were detonated on the base. An investigation by the Army’s Criminal Investigations Division and the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations led to Dezwaan’s arrest in June.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place at Hill Air Force Base on August 23. The Air Force said in its statement that anyone charged is “presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”
Initially, US officials said they believed the April 7 attack was caused by indirect fire on the base similar to the rocket and mortar attacks that were carried out in the area by militias. However, a week later, a military statement said that after “further investigation” the attack was believed to be the result of the “deliberate placement of explosive charges by one or more unidentified individuals in a storage area of ammunition and a shower”.
The explosives used were described to CNN by two officials as “not insignificant” with more detonating power than a hand grenade. An official described the explosives as “military grade”.
The four injured service members were diagnosed and treated for traumatic brain injuries after the blasts but returned to duty later in April.
After the incident, a “commander’s investigation” was initiated by US Central Command, which oversees operations in Syria, but was turned over to the Criminal Investigations Division when it became clear that the explosive pattern did not was not caused by incoming fire, officials said.
The Biden administration maintains about 900 troops in Syria, including special operations forces to advise and assist the Syrian Democratic Forces.