US conducts airstrikes in Syria after drone attack kills American contractor, injures troops
The airstrikes were in response to an attack that occurred Thursday at a coalition base near Hasakah in northeast Syria.
An unmanned aerial vehicle struck a coalition military base in Syria on Thursday, killing one person and injuring six others.
According to a Defense Department statement, the drone struck a maintenance facility at a base near Hasakah in northeast Syria at approximately 1:38 p.m. One civilian contractor was killed, and five U.S. service members as well as another civilian contractor were wounded.
The drone that attacked the coalition base was of Iranian origin, according to a Pentagon statement. In response, U.S. forces carried out multiple airstrikes on targets in eastern Syria.
“At the direction of President Biden, I authorized U.S. Central Command forces to conduct precision airstrikes tonight in eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC),” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin in a statement. “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.”
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Two of the wounded service members were treated at the coalition base in Syria. The wounded civilian contractor and three other service members were evacuated to medical facilities in Iraq, according to the Defense Department statement.
The head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla said in a statement that “We are postured for scalable options in the face of any additional Iranian attacks.”
Around 900 U.S. troops are currently deployed to Syria as part of an ongoing mission combating Islamic State militants, with roughly 2,500 troops in Iraq as well. In 2022, U.S. forces conducted 108 missions alongside the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, as well as 14 “unilateral” missions in Syria, resulting in 159 suspected ISIS fighters being captured and at least 220 killed, according to CENTCOM.
The incident Thursday isn’t the first time coalition bases in Syria have been targeted by drone attacks this year. In January, two drones were shot down while a third struck a building on a base in Syria’s al-Tanf region, wounding two members of the Syrian Free Army. Last month Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited U.S. forces in Syria.
“I think that an enduring defeat of ISIS and continuing to support our friends and allies in the region … I think those are important tasks that can be done,” Milley said during his visit.
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