The Pentagon announced on Thursday night that it launched airstrikes in Syria after a drone attack killed a US contractor and wounded five US troops near Hasakah in northeast Syria.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that at the direction of President Biden, he authorized “US 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).”
The groups the US targeted were likely Shia militias that operate in Syria. The Pentagon claimed that US intelligence determined the drone was of “Iranian origin,” but at this point, there’s no indication that Tehran was involved in the attack on the US base.
The Pentagon said that “two of the wounded service members were treated on site, while three additional service members and the US contractor were medically evacuated to Coalition medical facilities in Iraq.”
The US has about 900 troops stationed in eastern Syria, and US bases in the country frequently come under attack. President Biden has previously launched airstrikes against Shia militias in the country.
The last major escalation took place in August 2022 when Biden ordered a series of airstrikes, which the US started in response to a drone attack that caused no casualties. The US occupation of eastern Syria always risks sparking a wider war in the region.