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The U.S. is retaliating after a drone strike in Syria killed a U.S. contractor, wounded five U.S. service members and wounded another contractor, the Defense Department said Thursday.
Intelligence sources have identified the drone that attacked the Syrian coalition base as being of Iranian origin. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.
In response, the Pentagon said the US Central Command launched “precision airstrikes” against targets believed to be linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
“As President Biden has made clear, we will take all necessary steps to protect our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing,” Austin said. “No group will attack our troops with impunity.”
Videos shared on social media showed the explosion in Deir el-Zour, a Syrian province near the Iraqi border that has oil fields.
Area under control Iran-backed militia groups and Syrian forcesAccording to the Associated Press, the latest damage was caused by suspected Israeli airstrikes targeting Iranian supply lines.
American attack on Thursday Eleven people were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group that monitors the war with a network of local sources. 6 Iranian-backed terrorists in a warehouse in the city. Two were killed on the outskirts of the surrounding town of al-Mayadeen. Three more were killed in the surrounding desert.
“The death toll is expected to rise as many militants have been injured in the strikes, some seriously,” the group wrote online.
Neither Iran nor Syria immediately acknowledged the attack.
Threats of attack and retaliation have fueled recent talks aimed at easing tensions across the Middle East after decades of conflict. Earlier this month, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic ties in a deal brokered by China, raising questions about whether US influence in the region is waning.
Austin said Thursday’s drone strike was the latest Iranian attack against coalition forces.
Iran has carried out an estimated 78 attacks on US forces in Syria since January 2021, US Army General Michael “Eric” Guerrilla said. US House Armed Services Committee Thursday.
In a statement following Thursday’s airstrikes, the guerrilla army said it was “positioned for measurable options in the face of any further Iranian attacks”.
“We will always take all necessary measures to protect our people,” he wrote.
This is a growing story. Check back for updates.
NPR’s Peter Kenyon contributes reporting.