A U.S. contractor was killed and five U.S. service members and one U.S. contractor were wounded Thursday when a suicide drone hit a coalition base near Hasakah in northeast Syria just before 2 p.m. local time, the Defense Department said in a statement.
The intelligence community believes the drone to have been of Iranian origin, according to the statement. The U.S. retaliated with airstrikes on Iranian-linked targets in the area.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “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).
“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.
“Our thoughts are with the family and colleagues of the contractor who was killed and with those who were wounded in the attack earlier today,” he said.
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Two wounded service members were treated on-site, while three others and the wounded U.S. contractor were evacuated to medical facilities in Iraq.
Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said Thursday in testimony to Congress that there have been 78 attacks against facilities housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria since January 2021. The attacks, mainly by drones and rockets, are believed to have carried out by Iran or Iranian-backed proxies.