US attacks Syria after the death of American contractor

Lloyd Austin

The Pentagon reported this Thursday (03.23.2023) the launch of precision airstrikes in eastern Syria, in response to a drone strike that killed a US contractor and wounded five US soldiers.

A State Department statement said the US contractor was killed and five soldiers wounded when “an unmanned aerial vehicle struck a maintenance facility at the Coalition base near Hasakah in northeast Syria.”

Another US contractor was wounded in the attack, the Pentagon added.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he authorized “precision airstrikes tonight in eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran” (IRGC).

“The airstrikes were carried out in response to today’s attack, as well as a series of recent attacks on Coalition forces in Syria by IRGC-affiliated groups,” it added.

The US intelligence community “assesses that the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is of Iranian origin,” the Pentagon statement said.

Hundreds of US troops are in Syria as part of a coalition fighting remnants of the Islamic State group. (IS) group and have often been targeted by militias.

US troops back the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish de facto army in the area, which led the battle that defeated ISIL in its last territories in Syria in 2019.

The US says it will defend its people

Two of the soldiers wounded on Thursday were treated at the same site, while the other three and the US contractor were evacuated on a medical mission to Iraq, the Pentagon said.

“As President (Joe) Biden has made clear, we will take all necessary steps to defend our people and we will always respond at the time and place we choose,” Austin said.

Biden was in Canada when the attacks were announced, where he is meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and hopes to address Parliament.

Last August, Biden ordered similar retaliatory strikes in Syria’s oil-rich Deir Ezzor province, following several drone strikes at a coalition outpost that resulted in no deaths.

That attack came the same day that Iranian state media announced that a Revolutionary Guard general had been killed days earlier, when he was “on a mission in Syria as a military adviser.”

Iran claims that it deployed its forces to Syria at the invitation of Damascus and only in an advisory capacity.

The IRGC is the ideological arm of the Iranian army and is classified by the United States as a terrorist group.