VOA — The U.S. military says it has carried out multiple “precision” airstrikes against targets in eastern Syria in response to a drone attack Thursday that killed a U.S. contractor.
The Pentagon said the contractor was killed Thursday at a coalition base in northeast Syria in a strike by a one-way attack drone that the intelligence community assessed was “of Iranian origin.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement the U.S. retaliated with “proportionate and deliberate” precision strikes Thursday in 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,” Austin said.
“No group will strike our troops with impunity,” he added.
The drone struck a maintenance facility on a base in Hasaka, Syria, at 1:38 p.m. local time, according to the Pentagon.
Six other Americans were wounded in the attack, including five U.S. service members. Two of the wounded service members were treated onsite, while three others and the U.S. contractor were medically evacuated to coalition medical facilities in Iraq, according to the U.S. military statement.
The United States has about 900 troops in eastern Syria to help Syrian Kurdish forces prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State terror group.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, the top U.S. military officer, and the head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East, warned lawmakers in separate hearings Thursday that Iran continues to destabilize the Middle East through its support to terrorist groups and proxy forces.
Iranian proxies have attacked U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria 78 times using drones and rockets since January 2021, according to CENTCOM commander Gen. Erik Kurilla.
“This was another in a series of attacks on our troops and partner forces,” Kurilla said late Thursday.
“We will always take all necessary measures to defend our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing. We are postured for scalable options in the face of any additional Iranian attacks,” he added.