The Pentagon reported that a suspected Iranian-made drone struck northeastern Syria on Thursday, killing a US contractor and injuring five US service members and a second contractor.
After that, US forces claimed to have carried out “precise airstrikes” in Syria against facilities used by organizations linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, killing at least eight militants on the ground, according to an activist group, writes the PA. The strike and the US response threaten recent efforts in the wider Middle East to defuse tensions, which major countries have moved towards detente in recent days after years of unrest.
In a statement, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin claimed that the origin of the drone was Iranian, although he provided no additional clear evidence to support this claim. “The airstrikes were carried out in response to today’s attack as well as a series of recent attacks on coalition forces in Syria,” Austin said. These attacks were carried out by organizations linked to the Revolutionary Guards.
He said President Biden gave the green light to the retaliatory attacks.
According to the Pentagon, three other injured servicemen and the injured contractor were taken to medical facilities in Iraq, while two of the injured servicemen were treated locally.
Videos posted on social media overnight claimed to show explosions in Deir el-Zour, a vital area of Syria that borders Iraq and has oil deposits. The Syrian army and Iranian-backed militias are in charge of the area, which has also recently come under alleged Israeli bombardment targeting Iranian supply channels. The strikes were not immediately acknowledged by Iran or Syria.
Central Command chief U.S. Army Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla warned that U.S. forces could launch additional strikes if needed. In a statement, Kurilla said “we are ready for scalable options in the face of any additional Iranian attacks.”
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