The Department of Defense said yesterday that Iranian-backed militias in Syria were responsible for a drone attack on the coalition base near Hasakah in northeastern Syria that killed a U.S. contractor and wounded six others. The coalition base houses personnel working to ensure the lasting defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, at the direction of President Joe Biden, authorized U.S. Central Command forces to conduct precision strikes into eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder during a news conference on March 24. “The airstrikes were conducted in response to yesterday’s attack, as well as a series of recent attacks against coalition forces in Syria by groups affiliated with the IRGC,” he said.
F-15E fighters assigned to Centcom launched the attack at approximately 2:40 a.m. local time. “We’re continuing to assess the outcome of the strikes,” Ryder said. “Initial indications are that the facilities were destroyed. These precision strikes were intended to protect and defend U.S. personnel, and the U.S. took proportionate and deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize casualties.”
Ryder added that Iranian-backed groups launched 10 rockets on March 24 that targeted coalition forces at the Green Village in northeast Syria. The attack resulted in no injuries to U.S. or coalition personnel and no damage to U.S. equipment or facilities.
“Our current assessment is that these rocket attacks were conducted by IRGC-affiliated groups, that this rocket attack was done in an effort to retaliate for last night’s attacks,” the press secretary said. “Again, they did not cause any damage at the coalition facility. As far as any type of future action, I’m not going to talk about or preview potential future operations other than to say we will always reserve the right to respond appropriately if our forces are threatened.”