WASHINGTON, March 24, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - The US military said it carried out
precision airstrikes in eastern Syria on Thursday in response to a drone
attack that killed one American contractor and injured five US service
A Department of Defense statement said the US contractor had been killed and
the others wounded "after a one-way unmanned aerial vehicle struck a
maintenance facility on a Coalition base near Hasakah in northeast Syria."
Another US contractor was also injured in the UAV attack, the Pentagon said,
adding that the US intelligence community "assess the UAV to be of Iranian
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that at the direction of President Joe
Biden, he had authorized "precision airstrikes tonight in eastern Syria
against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic
Revolutionary Guards Corps."
"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," he added.
Hundreds of US troops are in Syria as part of a coalition fighting against
remnants of the Islamic State (IS) group and have frequently been targeted in
attacks by militia groups.
The US troops support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurds' de facto
army in the area, which led the battle that dislodged IS from the last scraps
of their Syrian territory in 2019.
Two of the service members injured on Thursday were treated onsite, while the
three other troops and one US contractor were medically evacuated to Iraq,
the Pentagon said.
"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," Austin said.
When the strikes were announced, Biden had already traveled to Canada, where
he is set to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and address Parliament.
Last August, Biden ordered similar retaliatory strikes in the oil-rich Syrian
province of Deir Ezzor after several drones targeted a coalition outpost,
without causing any casualties.
That attack came the same day that Iranian state media announced a
Revolutionary Guard general had been killed days earlier while "on a mission
in Syria as a military adviser."
Iran says it has deployed its forces in Syria at the invitation of Damascus
and only as advisers.
The IRGC is the ideological arm of the Iranian military and is blacklisted as
a terrorist group by the United States.