What's new

US launches airstrikes in Syria after drone kills US worker

US launches airstrikes in Syria after drone kills US worker​

Thu, March 23, 2023 at 11:00 PM EDT


Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, speaks during a briefing with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley at the Pentagon in Washington, Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

BEIRUT (AP) — A strike Thursday by a suspected Iranian-made drone killed a U.S. contractor and wounded five American troops and another contractor in northeast Syria, the Pentagon said. American forces said they retaliated soon after with “precision airstrikes” in Syria targeting facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard, with activist groups saying they killed at least four people.
The attack and the U.S. response threaten to upend recent efforts to deescalate tensions across the wider Middle East, whose rival powers have made steps toward détente in recent days after years of turmoil.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the American intelligence community had determined the drone was of Iranian origin, but offered no other immediate evidence to support the claim.
“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 Revolutionary Guard, Austin said.
Iran relies on a network of proxy forces through the Mideast to counter the U.S. and Israel, its arch regional enemy.
The Pentagon said two of the wounded service members were treated on-site, while three others and the injured contractor were transported to medical facilities in Iraq.
Overnight, videos on social media purported to show explosions in Syria’s Deir el-Zour, a strategic province that borders Iraq and contains oil fields. Iran-backed militia groups and Syrian forces control the area, which also has seen suspected airstrikes by Israel in recent months allegedly targeting Iranian supply routes.
Iran and Syria did not immediately acknowledge the strikes, nor did their officials at the United Nations in New York respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.
The activist group Deir Ezzor 24 put the death toll from the American strikes at four people. Deir Ezzor 24, which covers news in Deir el-Zour province, said the strikes hit the city of Deir el-Zour as well as militiamen posts near Mayadeen and Boukamal. It said the strikes also wounded people, including Iraqis.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, reported that the American strikes killed six Iranian-backed fighters at an arms depot in the Harabesh neighborhood in the city of Deir el-Zour. The Observatory, which relies on a network of local contacts in Syria, said U.S. bombing at a post near the town of Mayadeen killed two fighters.
A separate American strike hit a military post near the town of Boukamal along the border with Iraq, killing another three fighters, the Observatory said.
The AP could not immediately independently confirm the activist reports.
Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been suspected of carrying out attacks with bomb-carrying drones across the wider Middle East.
In recent months, Russia has begun using Iranian drones in its attacks on sites across Ukraine as part of its war on Kyiv. Iran has issued a series of conflicting denials about its drones being used in the war, though Western nations and experts have tied components in the drones back to Tehran.
The exchange of strikes came as Saudi Arabia and Iran have been working toward reopening embassies in each other’s countries. The kingdom also acknowledged efforts to reopen a Saudi embassy in Syria, whose embattled President Bashar Assad has been backed by Iran in his country’s long war.
U.S. Army Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, the head of the American military’s Central Command, warned that American forces could carry out additional strikes if needed. “We are postured for scalable options in the face of any additional Iranian attacks,” Kurilla said in a statement.
Addressing the U.S. House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Kurilla warned lawmakers that the “Iran of today is exponentially more militarily capable than it was even five years ago.” He pointed to Iran’s arsenal of ballistic missiles and bomb-carrying drones.
Kurilla also alleged that Iran had launched some 78 attacks on U.S. positions in Syria since January 2021.
“What Iran does to hide its hand is they use Iranian proxies,” Kurilla said.
Diplomacy to deescalate the crisis appeared to begin immediately around the strikes. Qatar’s state-run news agency reported a call between its foreign minister and Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser. Doha has been an interlocutor between Iran and the U.S. recently amid tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Qatar’s foreign minister also spoke around the same time with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.
Austin said he authorized the retaliatory strikes at the direction of President Joe Biden.
“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,” Austin said. “No group will strike our troops with impunity.”
The U.S. under Biden has struck Syria previously over tensions with Iran. In February and June of 2021, as well as August 2022, Biden launched attacks there.
U.S. forces entered Syria in 2015, backing allied forces in their fight against the Islamic State group. The U.S. still maintains the base near Hasakah in northeast Syria where Thursday's drone strike happened. There are roughly 900 U.S. troops, and even more contractors, in Syria, including in the north and farther south and east.
Since the U.S. drone strike that killed Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in 2020, Iran has sought “to make life difficult for U.S. forces stationed east of the Euphrates,” said Hamidreza Azizi, an expert with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
“Iran increased its support for local proxies in Deir el-Zour while trying to ally with the tribal forces in the area,” Azizi wrote in a recent analysis. “Due to the geographical proximity, Iraqi groups also intensified their activities in the border strip with Syria and in the Deir el-Zour province.”
The strikes come during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Syria’s war began with the 2011 Arab Spring protests that roiled the wider Middle East and toppled governments in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. It later morphed into a regional proxy conflict that has seen Russia and Iran back Assad. The United Nations estimates over 300,000 civilians have been killed in the war. Those figures do not include soldiers and insurgents killed in the conflict; their numbers are believed to be in the tens of thousands.
Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Kesten reported from Washington.

The strike killed an american PMC, not a "worker".
Why is US contractor doing in Syria?
US influence in the form of PMCs is absolutely everywhere in the middle east.
Easiest way to maintain a grip on the region without direct military presence.
Why is US contractor doing in Syria?
A lot of contractors perform work for the DoD. Many are stationed across the Persian Gulf. Privatization of war is primarily the reason.
Why can't the Russian systems in Syria shot down US drones? What was US contractor doing in Syria in the first place? Might is right!
Already the Americans have eliminated 19 Irani terror dogs in retaliation.
well i see the project to free Syria has started , first Iraq was freed from the grip of centcom terror forces , then Afghanistan and now the time has come to free Syria.

the promise is being fulfilled step by step. USA will be thrown out of middle east step by step and there won't be any safe place for terrorist CENTCOM forces in the region
The U.S. has fought a series of wars of aggression that are objectively atrocious.
Since World War II, however, the U.S. has never fought a war merely to seize another country's territory.
In a manner of speaking, we had a cause.
The fact that Obama, who is only pretending to be a good guy, broke this red line and seized the entire oil fields in eastern Syria has become a burden for the presidents who succeeded him.
In Syria, the U.S. is nothing more than an illegal occupier, and nowhere else in the world is a major power stationed in a region just to take another country's territory like this.
The nature of the conflict is completely different from the conflicts across the border in Palestine and Ukraine.
Already the Americans have eliminated 19 Irani terror dogs in retaliation.
Not a single Iranian was killed.

Terrorist occupying US military forces are being evicted from the region. Nowhere is safe for the invading terrorists, a small taste of the fate that awaits Zionist settlers.
Pakistani squatter in the west is cheering for a Shia terror regime.

This is your countrymen making you proud stupid Hindutva.

Dirty Hindutva scammer.

Not a single Iranian was killed.

Terrorist occupying US military forces are being evicted from the region. Nowhere is safe for the invading terrorists, a small taste of the fate that awaits Zionist settlers.

He is not even a Zionist. Just a Zionist cheerleader who begs on a Pakistani defence forum for recognition.
Where came from US fighter jets to rape Syria sovereignty?

Top Bottom