US launches airstrikes in Syria after drone attack kills American contractor
The US has carried out airstrikes on targets backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Syria following a deadly attack on a coalition base.
The Pentagon said a US contractor was killed when a suspected Iranian drone struck a facility in northeast Syria on Thursday.
Five US service members and another US contractor were also wounded in the attack.
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US had retaliated with “precision airstrikes” in eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Mr Austin said the airstrikes were conducted in response to Thursday’s drone attack “as well as a series of recent attacks against coalition forces in Syria” by groups affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard.
Footage on social media appears to show explosions in Syria’s Deir el-Zour, a strategic province that borders Iraq and contains oil fields.
The area is controlled by Iran-backed militia groups and Syrian forces, and has also seen suspected airstrikes by Israel in recent months, allegedly targeting Iranian supply routes.
Mr Austin said he authorised the retaliatory strikes under the direction of US President Joe Biden.
He added: “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.”
Iran’s ‘secret supply of weapons to Russia’
The lasting legacy of America’s invasion of Iraq
Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been suspected of using bomb-carrying drones to carry out attacks across the wider Middle East.
Russia has begun using Iranian drones in recent months in its attacks on sites across Ukraine as part of its ongoing invasion of the country.
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Iran has denied being responsible for such attacks, though Western nations and experts have linked components in the drones back to Tehran.
The unmanned aerial vehicle in Thursday’s attack was determined to be of Iranian origin by the intelligence community, the US defence department said.
Warning of more US airstrikes ‘if necessary’
US Army General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, the head of the American military’s Central Command, warned that forces could carry out additional strikes if necessary.
“We are postured for scalable options in the face of any additional Iranian attacks,” he said.
Syria’s state-run SANA news agency did not immediately acknowledge any strikes in the east, while Iran has not yet reacted over the strikes, which come during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Be the first to get Breaking News
Install the Sky News app for free
The US has launched attacks against Syria over tensions with Iran in February 2021 and June that year, as well as in August 2022.
US forces entered Syria in 2015 to back allied forces in their fight against the Islamic State group, and they still maintain the base near Hasakah in northeast Syria where Thursday’s drone strike happened.
There are currently around 900 US troops in Syria.