Eleven pro-Iranian fighters were killed in US airstrikes in eastern Syria, launched in retaliation for a drone strike that killed one American and wounded six others – Washington and an NGO said Friday (24).
One American employed by US forces was killed, and another was wounded, along with five US soldiers, when an explosive drone “of Iranian origin” struck a maintenance base near Hasaké in northeastern Syria on Thursday (23), the Pentagon said in a statement.
In response, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he ordered, at the direction of President Joe Biden, “precision air strikes tonight in eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”
“The airstrikes were conducted in response to today’s attack, as well as in response to a series of recent attacks against coalition forces in Syria by groups affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard,” Austin explained.
About 900 American troops are in Syria as part of an international coalition fighting what remains of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).
These military personnel are frequent targets of attacks launched by militias.
- “We will always respond”
“As President Biden has clearly stated, we will take all necessary steps to defend our fellow citizens and will always respond at the time and place of our choosing,” the Defense Secretary emphasized.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), “the US strikes targeted an arms depot in the city of Deir Ezzor, killing six pro-Iranian fighters.”
“Another five fighters died in attacks against positions of Iranian groups near Mayadin and another near Al Bukamal,” this NGO added, specifying that two of the 11 dead are Syrian.
Iranian groups and their allies, supporters of the Damascus government, are strongly established in these areas near the border with Iraq, which are a major crossing point for weapons into Syria.
American troops also support the Syrian Democratic Forces, the de facto army of the Kurds in the region, which led the battle against the IS group to remove it from the last territories it controlled in Syria in 2019.
In August 2022, the US president ordered retaliatory strikes in Syria’s oil-rich Deir Ezzor province after an anti-jihadist coalition outpost was attacked by a drone, which caused no casualties.
This attack occurred on the same date that Iranian state media reported the death of a Revolutionary Guard general days earlier while he was “on a mission in Syria as a military advisor.”
Iran, a staunch ally of President Bashar al-Assad’s government, claims to have sent military personnel to the country at Damascus’ invitation and only in an advisory capacity.
The US-led international coalition has repeatedly acknowledged carrying out attacks in eastern Syria against pro-Iranian fighters.
Israel has also carried out several attacks in Syria, but rarely takes responsibility for them.
US strikes Iran-backed facility in Syria after drone kills American
(Reuters) – U.S. military personnel carried out several airstrikes in Syria on Thursday night against groups aligned with Iran, whom it blamed for a drone strike that killed one U.S. employee, wounded another and also injured five U.S. soldiers, the Pentagon said.
The attack on US officials and the retaliation were disclosed by the Pentagon at the same time on Thursday night.
The attack against the Americans occurred at a coalition base near Hasakah in northeastern Syria at approximately 1:38 p.m. Thursday in local time, according to the Pentagon.
The U.S. intelligence community assessed that the attack drone was of Iranian origin, the military said, a conclusion that could further aggravate already strained relations between Washington and Tehran.
Although U.S. forces stationed in Syria have been targeted by drones before, casualties are extremely rare.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the retaliatory strikes were conducted at the direction of President Joe Biden and targeted facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
“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,” Austin said in a statement.
“No group will attack our troops with impunity.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group that monitors the war in Syria, said U.S. attacks have left eight pro-Iranian fighters dead in Syria.
Reuters was unable to independently confirm the number.