WASHINGTON – The U.S. military retaliated in eastern Syria on Thursday against Iran-backed groups after a deadly drone strike on a U.S. base in the region killed an American contractor and wounded six others, including five U.S. service members, the Pentagon said.

“Earlier today, a US contractor was killed and five US service members and another US contractor were injured after a one-way unmanned aerial vehicle struck a maintenance facility at a coalition base near Hasakah in northeastern Syria at approximately 1:38 p.m. local time . “, the Pentagon said in a statement.

Two of the wounded soldiers were treated at the scene, while the other four Americans were evacuated to coalition medical facilities in Iraq, officials said.

According to a US intelligence assessment, the single-action unmanned aerial vehicle that struck the base was of Iranian origin, the statement said.

FILE – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon on Nov. 3, 2022, in Washington.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

“By order of the president [Joe] Biden, I have authorized U.S. Central Command forces tonight to carry out high-precision airstrikes in eastern Syria against targets used by groups linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III in a statement released Thursday evening.

“The airstrikes were carried out in response to today’s attack, as well as a series of recent attacks on coalition forces in Syria by groups linked to the IRGC,” he added.

The US has about 900 troops in eastern Syria helping Syrian Kurdish forces prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State.

In recent months, some of the bases have been targeted by drone attacks, which in most cases have resulted in no injuries or physical damage. Groups in Syria supported by Iran are believed to be responsible for the attacks.

‚ÄúThese high-precision strikes are designed to protect and defend US personnel. The United States has taken proportionate and targeted actions aimed at limiting the risk of escalation and minimizing casualties,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

“As President Biden has made clear, we will take whatever action is necessary to protect our people, and we will always respond at the time and place we choose,” Austin said. “No group will attack our troops with impunity.”

“Our thoughts are with the family and colleagues of the slain contractor, as well as those who were injured in the attack earlier today,” the defense minister added.

During a House Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday on the Middle East and Africa, the head of US Central Command, Gen. Michael “Eric” Kurile, was asked by Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon about the frequency of Iranian attacks on US forces.

According to Kurila, there have been 78 such attacks since the beginning of 2021.

“It’s intermittent. We see periods where they will do more,” Curillo said

“So what Iran is doing to hide its hand is that they are using Iranian proxies — that’s under drones or missiles — to be able to attack our forces in Iraq or Syria,” he added.

ABC News reporter Matt Seiler contributed to this report.

Source link

Previous articleInvest in brave, progressive journalism
Next articleMayor Reed Guschiora and City Council members award $100,000 grant to TDI – Trentonian