By Lawrence Richard. Media: Fox News.
The U.S. military carried out several precision airstrikes in Syria on Thursday, reportedly killing eight Iranians, in retaliation for a drone strike Iranian forces conducted earlier in the day on a coalition base that killed one American.
The Defense Department said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps crashed a UAV into a building near Hasakah in northeast Syria at approximately 1:38 p.m. local time, leaving one U.S. contractor dead. The attack also wounded five U.S. service members and another U.S. contractor.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, two of the American strikes killed at least eight Iranian fighters.
A U.S. airstrike at an arms depot in Harabesh, in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour left six Iranian-backed fighters dead. A second U.S. bombing at a post near the town of Mayadeen killed another two fighters, according to the Observatory, whose reporting relies on local Syrian contacts.
U.S. intelligence assessed the UAV that crashed into a coalition base, which killed the U.S. contractor, was of Iranian origin — so President Biden authorized the military to retaliate, the Pentagon said.
“At the direction of President Biden, I authorized U.S. Central Command forces to conduct precision airstrikes tonight in eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC),” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. “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.”
The Observatory reported another American strike on a military post near the town of Boukamal, near the border with Iraq. Their report has not been independently verified.
Three service members and the U.S. contractor who were wounded in the initial attack were medically evacuated to Coalition medical facilities in Iraq while the other two wounded service members were treated on-site.
“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,” Secretary Austin continued. “No group will strike our troops with impunity.”
He added: “Our thoughts are with the family and colleagues of the contractor who was killed and with those who were wounded in the attack earlier today.”
General Michael Kurilla, the CENTCOM Commander, said the U.S. stands ready to retaliate against any such attacks on U.S. personnel.
“This evening, we responded to an attack on our forces that killed an American contractor and wounded our troops and another American contractor by striking facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. This was another in a series of attacks on our troops and partner forces,” Kurilla said.
Kurilla added: “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.”
“The thoughts and prayers of US Central Command are with the Family of our contractor killed and with our wounded servicemembers and contractor,” the CENTCOM Commander also said.
And: “Our troops remain in Syria to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS, which benefits the security and stability of not only Syria but the entire region.”
The Pentagon said the U.S. took “proportionate and deliberate action” that limited the risk of escalation in its targeted response.
The U.S. has roughly 900 troops stationed in Syria.