No one was injured in the strike against Green Village, Maj. John Moore, a CENTCOM spokesman, told the Washington Examiner.
A suspected Iranian drone, which the intelligence community assesses to be of Iranian origin, struck a maintenance facility on a coalition base in northeast Syria on Thursday afternoon, killing a U.S. contractor and injuring 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 IRGC.
“At the direction of President Biden, I authorized U.S. 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),” Austin said in a statement. “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.”
The Deir Ezzor 24 activist group reported that four members of what it described as Iranian-linked militias were killed in the U.S. airstrikes around the town of Deir al-Zour, and that others, including Iraqi citizens, were wounded.
Both Austin and Gen. Erik Kurilla, the head of U.S. Central Command, reiterated that the U.S. will “take all necessary measures to defend our people.”
The identity of the contractor who died in the attack was not immediately disclosed. Two of the wounded soldiers were treated on site, while three service members and another contractor had to be evacuated to coalition medical facilities in Iraq.
These types of strikes against U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq are not uncommon, and Iran is suspected of backing the groups responsible.
Kurilla has appeared at congressional hearings both this week and last week, where he stressed Tehran’s continued maligned activity in the region while highlighting their development in recent years.
There have been nearly 80 attacks against U.S. forces by Iranian proxies since 2021, he told lawmakers on Thursday.
“Today, Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, thousands of ballistic and cruise missiles, many capable of striking anywhere in the Middle East. Iran also maintains the largest and most capable UAV force in the region,” he said.
Iranian proxy attacks against U.S. forces are “increasing,” he added last week, while CENTCOM personnel have also seen “some of the highest numbers of our advanced conventional weapons and munitions … going from Iran to Yemen.”
Iran has provided the same drones its proxies use to target U.S. troops in the Middle East to Russia for use in Ukraine. The budding defense partnership has concerned U.S. officials, who warn that it poses a significant threat to U.S. interests in the region as well as to Kyiv.
“We have additional information that Iran’s support for Russia’s war is expanding. In November, Iran shipped artillery and tank rounds to Russia for use in Ukraine. Russia is planning to cooperate with Iran to obtain more military equipment in return,” National Security Council Coordinator John Kirby said on Feb. 24. “Russia has been offering Iran unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics, and air defense. We believe that Russia might provide Iran with fighter jets.”
Iranian state media has reported that Russia will be providing Iran with Su-35 aircraft, and Kurilla said it’s CENTCOM’s belief that it will happen “at some point this year.”