A drone attack in Syria has left an American contractor dead and five service members injured, sparking retaliatory measures by the United States military.
Late Thursday night, a drone strike was launched against U.S. personnel in northeast Syria, CNN reported. Citing information from the intelligence community, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the drone was of Iranian origin and as such the United States military responded with “precision airstrikes” in Syria, targeting installations used by groups connected with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
“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 Revolutionary Guard, Austin said in a statement, according to The AP.
Breaking News: A drone of “Iranian origin” killed a U.S. contractor in Syria, according to the Pentagon, which ordered airstrikes in Syria in response. https://t.co/t2E2vpCCCM
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 24, 2023
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that the retaliatory strikes sent by American forces killed six Iranian-backed militants at an armory facility near Deir el-Zour and two additional fighters near Mayadeen. Another group Deer Ezzor 24 has claimed the American airstrikes killed four people and wounded others, including Iraqis, The AP reported.
Videos posted on social media appear to show explosions in Syria’s Deir el-Zour region – an area backed by Iranian militia groups and Syrian forces that also contains strategic oil fields.
Iran and Syria have yet to acknowledge the strikes. Saudi Arabia and Iran have been seeking to reopen embassies in each other’s countries, a discussion brokered by China that, if successful, has the potential to transform the Middle East, according to Foreign Affairs. Coming on the heels of failed nuclear talks between the U.S. and Iran, China’s role in brokering renewed diplomatic relations between the two Middle Eastern countries shows “the slow erosion of the U.S. force posture in the region, the slow erosion of the U.S.-led order in the region,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News.
Of the retaliatory measures, Austin stated the U.S. “took proportionate and deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize casualties. 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. “No group will strike our troops with impunity,” the AP reported. (RELATED: Iranian Troops In Crimea Supported Russian Drone Strikes, US Official Says)
U.S. Army Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, head of the American military’s Central Command, echoed the sentiment issuing a warning that American forces “are postured for scalable options in the face of any additional Iranian attacks,” according to the outlet.