US conducts airstrikes in Syria after American contractor killed in drone attack
The US conducted “precision airstrikes” in eastern Syria after an American contractor was killed after a drone struck a US coalition base near Hasakah in northeast Syria on Thursday, the Department of Defence (DoD) said.
The unmanned aerial vehicle hit a maintenance facility of the coalition, also wounding five US service members and one additional US contractor, the department said.
The intelligence community assess the drone to be of Iranian origin, the department said.
In response to the attack, US Central Command forces conducted the airstrikes against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
“The airstrikes were conducted in response to today’s attack as well as a series of recent attacks against Coalition forces in Syria by groups affiliated with the IRGC,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III.
The DoD said the strikes were “intended to protect and defend US personnel”.
“The United States took proportionate and deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize casualties,” it said.
Mr Austin said he authorised the retaliatory strikes at the direction of President Joe Biden.
“As President Biden has made clear, we will take all necessary measures to defend our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing,” he said.
“No group will strike our troops with impunity.”
Two of the wounded service members were treated on site, while three other service members and the US contractor were medically evacuated to Coalition medical facilities in Iraq, the DoD said.
Overnight, social media users posted videos showing explosions said to have taken place in Syria’s Deir Ez Zor, a strategic province that borders Iraq and contains oil fields.
Iran-backed militia groups and Syrian forces control the area, which also has seen suspected airstrikes by Israel in recent months allegedly targeting Iranian supply routes.