The United States forces on Thursday launched a retaliatory attack on facilities affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite Iranian force in Syria.
This is coming on the heels of a self-detonating drone which struck a U.S. military position in Syria on Thursday, killing an American contractor, wounding U.S. troops and a second U.S. contractor.
The drone — which the Pentagon, citing a U.S. intelligence assessment, described as Iranian in origin — struck a maintenance facility within a military base near Hasakah, a city in northeastern Syria, officials disclosed in a news release distributed Thursday night.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in an accompanying statement, said that at the direction of President Biden, U.S. forces in the region carried out the retaliatory.
“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.
“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. No group will strike our troops with impunity.”
The Deir Ezzor 24 activist group, which has sources in the area, said that four members of what it describes as Iranian-linked militias were killed in the American strikes around the town of Deir al-Zour, and that others, including Iraqi citizens, were wounded.
Identities of the dead American and wounded personnel were not immediately disclosed.
Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, who as the head of U.S. Central Command oversees all American military activity in the region, said in a statement that the United States has “scalable options” should tensions with Iran or it proxy forces escalate further. He described Thursday’s deadly strike as “another in a series of attacks on our troops and partner forces.”
While Biden has pledged to end American “forever wars,” he has maintained a force of about 900 U.S. troops in Syria and 2,500 in neighboring Iraq, both bolstered by hundreds of contractors. They are remnants of a larger force that, several years ago, guided local partner groups in a ferocious war to destroy the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate.