Air strikes were launched by the U.S. military in Syria against Iran-aligned groups on Thursday night after a drone attack that killed an American contractor, injured another, and injured five U.S. troops, according to the Pentagon.
Pentagon officials announced the attack on U.S. servicemen and the counterattack late Thursday. The strike on the U.S. service members occurred on Thursday at about 1:38 p.m. (1038 GMT) at a coalition base in Hasakah in northeast Syria.
According to the Military, U.S. intelligence concluded that the one-way attack drone was Iranian, a decision that may worsen already fragile ties between Washington and Tehran. Although drones have previously targeted U.S. forces in Syria, fatalities are rare.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the retaliatory strikes were ordered by President Joe Biden and targeted facilities affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). According to Austin, the air strikes were carried out in reaction to the incident as well as a series of previous attacks against Coalition troops in Syria by IRGC-affiliated elements. Austin added that no “group will strike our troops with impunity.”
As reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian war, the U.S. attacks killed eight pro-Iranian fighters in Syria.
Reuters could not independently confirm the toll. According to Iran’s official television, no Iranians were killed. Local authorities denied the target was an Iran-aligned military installation but rather a rural development center and a grain center near a military airfield.
A military source in Syria informed Press T.V. that opposition organizations reserve the right to retaliate to the American assault and will take reciprocal measures, it stated.
The drone assault on U.S. forces resulted in personnel who needed medical evacuation to Iraq. According to the Military, the US-led coalition fighting the remains of the Islamic State maintains medical facilities. It added that the other two wounded U.S. servicemen were treated at the facility in northeast Syria.
According to Army General Erik Kurilla, who supervises U.S. soldiers in the Middle East as the commander of Central Command, U.S. troops have been attacked 78 times since the beginning of 2021 by Iranian-backed militias. Deployments in Iraq, where Iran has a stronghold, have also been subjected to drone and rocket attacks.
Iran’s drone fleet was the subject of Kurilla’s warning to the House Armed Services Committee. Kurilla advised that the Iranian government now has the region’s largest and most capable unmanned aerial vehicle force.
Three drones hit a U.S. facility in January in Syria’s Al-Tanf area. According to the U.S. military, two drones were shot down, while the final drone struck the facility and wounded two Syrian Free Army fighters.
U.S. authorities think the drone and rocket assaults are being directed by Iran-backed militia, highlighting the complicated geopolitics of Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad relies on Iran and Russia for assistance and regards U.S. soldiers as invaders.
This latest incident happened weeks after Mark Milley, a U.S. general, visited northeast Syria to review the campaign against the Islamic State and the risk to U.S. forces.
Milley tied the deployment of approximately 900 US troops to the security of the United States and its allies, saying that it’s important to have a presence there for the safety of the U.S. and its allies.
The U.S. presence, which former President Donald Trump nearly terminated in 2018 before easing his exit plans, is a relic of the bigger global battle against terrorism that formerly included the war in Afghanistan and a significantly larger U.S. military commitment to Iraq.
While the Islamic State has lost control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq that it reigned over in 2014, sleeper cells continue to carry out hit-and-run strikes in remote areas where neither the US-led coalition nor the Syrian government has complete authority. Thousands more Islamic State fighters have been apprehended by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, America’s main ally in Syria. According to American officials, the Islamic State has the potential to re-emerge as a major threat, which is why Miley believes it is vital for the security of the U.S.