US strikes Iran-aligned base in Syria in retaliation for drone attack
Washington: The US military has carried out multiple airstrikes in Syria against Iran-aligned groups who it blamed for a deadly drone attack that killed a contractor, injured another and wounded five US troops, the Pentagon said.
The strikes were in retaliation for an attack against a US-led coalition base near Hasakah in north-east Syria on Thursday, it said.
The US intelligence community assessed that the unmanned aerial vehicle was of Iranian origin, the military said.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said the “precision airstrikes” targeted groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Authorised the strikes: US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.Credit:AP
“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,” Austin said in a statement on Thursday night (US time), Friday AEDT.
Austin said he authorised 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.”
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. Recently, 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.
Revolutionary Guard’s ground force troops stand while attending a manoeuvre in north-western Iran last year.Credit:IRG/AP
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 towards reopening embassies in each other’s countries. The kingdom also acknowledged efforts to reopen its embassy in Syria, whose embattled President Bashar al-Assad has been backed by Iran in his country’s long civil war.
Syria’s state-run SANA news agency did not immediately acknowledge any strikes. Syria’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
There was no immediate reaction from Iran over the strikes, which come during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Qatar’s state-run news agency reported a call between its foreign minister and Jake Sullivan, the US 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.
The Department of Defence 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.
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