Additional attacks on US bases in Syria on Friday followed US retaliatory airstrikes on Iran-backed groups
Two new attacks late Friday on US facilities in Deir al-Zour province in eastern Syria followed another earlier in the day and a drone strike on Thursday that led to retaliatory US airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militias, a US official told ABC News. He thinks she is responsible.
The official said the two attacks occurred late Friday around the same time. One involved three drones that targeted a facility and the other included five missiles fired at a separate facility, according to the official, who said one US service member was injured and in stable condition.
Note: The video in the media player is from a previous report.
The official said two of the three drones targeting a US facility were shot down, but one drone made it through. There were no injuries in that attack.
The official said that five missiles were fired at another American facility, in which the American soldier was wounded. The official said that the condition of this person is stable, and the assessment of the damage to the facility is still ongoing.
Earlier Friday, a Pentagon spokesman said that the first attack on a US base caused no damage and there were no casualties.
“On the morning of March 24, at approximately 8:05 local time, 10 coalition missiles targeted Green Village in northeastern Syria,” said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Phil Ventura.
He added, “The attack did not result in casualties among members of the US forces or the coalition, and did not cause damage to equipment or facilities.”
More: US military carries out airstrikes in Syria after drone attack kills US contractor
The new attacks, of which there have been about 80 since the start of 2021, come a day after the US military launched retaliatory air strikes in eastern Syria on Thursday against Iranian-backed groups after a one-way drone attack targeted a US base in Syria. The Pentagon said the area killed an American contractor and wounded six others, including five American service members.
“Earlier today, an American contractor was killed and five American service members and an additional American contractor were injured after a one-way drone strike struck a maintenance facility at a coalition base near Hasakah in northeastern Syria at approximately 1:38 p.m. local time,” the Pentagon said. in a statement.
Officials said two of the wounded were treated at the site, while the other four Americans were medically evacuated to coalition medical facilities in Iraq. A US official confirmed to ABC News that both contractors are American.
According to the statement, US intelligence assessed that the one-way attack drone that struck the base on Thursday was of Iranian origin. Iran has used such drones in the past in attacks on Saudi Arabia and Yemen, but this drone technology became more visible after it provided hundreds of drones to Russia that have been used in attacks against Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure targets.
Earlier on Thursday, Gen. Michael “Eric Korella,” as commander of US Central Command, the top US military commander in the Middle East, told Congress that there have been 78 such attacks since the beginning of 2021.
At the direction of the President [Joe] Biden, I have authorized U.S. Central Command to conduct precision air strikes tonight in eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J.
He added, “The air strikes came in response to today’s attack, as well as a series of recent attacks against coalition forces in Syria by groups affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”
A US official told ABC News that the airstrikes were carried out by US Air Force F-15 fighter jets as part of a response approved by President Joe Biden earlier Thursday.
White House spokesman John Kirby said during an appearance on CNN that Biden was on his way to Ottawa, Canada, when he accepted the airstrikes offered by the Pentagon and the US intelligence community as options for responding to the drone attack.
“The decision was made very, very early in that discussion to authorize strikes against these specific targets,” Kirby said. “We will work to protect our people and facilities as best we can. It is a dangerous environment.”
“We do not seek conflict with Iran,” Kirby said. “We’ve been very clear with the Iranians and with our partners about how serious the mission we’re doing in Syria is and how we’re going to protect that mission.”
“Iran should not be involved in supporting these attacks on our facilities or on our people, we’ve made that very clear,” Kirby said.
In a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday afternoon, before reports of more attacks emerged, Biden said, “Make no mistake, the United States does not — do not assert — seek conflict with Iran but be prepared for it. We have to act aggressively to protect Our people. That’s exactly what happened last night.”
The United States has about 900 troops in eastern Syria helping Syrian Kurdish forces prevent the return of the Islamic State.
In recent months, some bases have been the target of drone attacks, which in most cases did not result in casualties or physical damage. Iranian-backed groups in Syria are believed to be responsible for these attacks.
“These precision strikes are intended to protect and defend US personnel. The United States has taken proportionate and deliberate actions designed to reduce the risk of escalation and minimize casualties,” the Pentagon statement read.
“As President Biden has made clear, we will take all actions necessary to defend our people and we will always respond at a time and place of our choosing,” Austin said. No group will strike our soldiers with impunity.”
“Our thoughts are with the family and colleagues of the contractor who was killed and injured in the attack earlier today,” the defense minister added.
In a statement, the commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Michael “Eric” Korella, said, in part, that the U.S. “will always take all necessary actions to defend our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing to scalable options in the face of any additional Iranian attacks.”
He added, “Our forces remain in Syria to ensure the permanent defeat of ISIS, which benefits the security and stability of not only Syria, but the entire region.”
During Thursday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing focused on the Middle East and Africa, Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon Corella asked about the frequency of Iranian proxy attacks on American forces.
According to Kurella, there have been 78 such attacks since the beginning of 2021.
“It’s my turn. We see periods where they’ll do more,” he said.
“What Iran does to hide its hand is that it uses Iranian proxies – under drones or missiles – to be able to attack our forces in Iraq or Syria,” Kurella added.
ABC News analyst Mick Mulroy, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East and retired CIA officer, said the United States “must respond to Iranian forces in Syria who are responsible for these attacks to the point where they know the consequences of killing and wounding Americans will not be worth the price.” “.