Drone strike kills US contractor in Syria
A US contractor was killed and five US service members and one other US contractor were wounded
A US contractor was killed and five US service members and one other US contractor were wounded when a suspected Iranian drone struck a facility on a coalition base in northeast Syria on Thursday, the Pentagon said.
In a statement released late Thursday, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said US Central Command forces retaliated with precision airstrikes against facilities in eastern Syria used by groups affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
The Defence Department said the intelligence community had determined the unmanned aerial vehicle was of Iranian origin.
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.
Overnight, videos on social media purported to show explosions in Syria's Deir Ez-Zor, 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'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 denied being responsible for these attacks, though Western nations and experts have tied components in the drones back to Tehran.
The attack and the US response threaten to upend recent efforts in the region to deescalate tensions, as Saudi Arabia and Iran have been working toward reopening embassies in each other's countries.
The kingdom also acknowledged efforts to reopen its embassy in Syria, whose embattled President Bashar Assad has been backed by Iran in his country's long war.