A suspected Iranian drone struck a maintenance facility on a coalition base in northeastern Syria on Thursday afternoon that killed a U.S. contractor and injured six others, including five service members. American troops then launched retaliatory airstrikes against facilities in eastern Syria that were used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Those forces responded once again with rocket fire, this time directed at Green Village.
“We do not seek conflict with Iran,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said on Friday. “We don’t seek escalation with Iran, but the strikes that we took last night were intended to send a very clear message that we will take the protection of our personnel seriously and that we will respond quickly and decisively, if they’re threatened.”
The attack took place at 1:38 p.m. local time on Thursday at a maintenance base near al Hasakah in northeastern Syria. Two of the wounded service members received treatment there, while three other service members and one wounded contractor were evacuated to coalition medical facilities in Iraq, the department said.
“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 IRGC,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement. “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.”
Following the U.S. airstrikes, those IRGC-affiliated groups launched 10 additional rockets at coalition forces at Green Village in northeastern Syria. U.S. Central Command said no one was injured, and there was no damage to U.S. equipment or facilities.
“This kind of indiscriminate rocket attack places not only our forces and coalition forces at risk, but also jeopardizes the local civilian population as well as the security and stability of Syria and the entire region,” Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for CENTCOM, said. “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.”
CENTCOM said one of the rockets missed the facility by roughly 3 miles, and it struck a civilian home, causing minor injuries to three people.
Gen. Erik Kurilla, the head of CENTCOM, told lawmakers earlier this week that there have been nearly 80 attacks against U.S. forces by Iranian proxies since 2021. He also warned that Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, the most capable unmanned aerial vehicles force in the region, in addition to thousands of ballistic and cruise missiles.