The Pentagon says the US military carried out multiple air strikes in Syria overnight against Iran-aligned groups after a suspected Iranian-made drone killed a US contractor and wounded another contractor along with five American troops.
The Department of Defense said the attack against US personnel took place at a base near Hasakah in northeast Syria on March 23.
The US intelligence community assessed that the drone was of Iranian origin, according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who said the retaliatory strikes targeted facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
A UK-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported that the US strikes left eight pro-Iranian fighters dead.
Iran and Syria did not immediately acknowledge the strikes, which came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Army General Erik Kurilla, who oversees US troops in the Middle East as the head of Central Command, alleged that American troops in Syria have come under attack by Iranian-backed groups about 78 times since the beginning of 2021.
“Iran of today is exponentially more militarily capable than it was even five years ago,” he told the US House Armed Services Committee, adding that the Islamic Republic “now holds the largest and most capable unmanned aerial vehicle force in the region."
Syria’s 12-year civil war began with Arab Spring protests before morphing into a regional proxy conflict that has seen Tehran and Moscow back President Bashar al-Assad.
US forces entered the country in 2015, backing allied forces in their fight against the Islamic State extremist group. There are currently roughly 900 American troops, and more contractors, in the country.