(Beirut) Eleven pro-Iranian fighters were killed in US airstrikes in eastern Syria overnight from Thursday to Friday, carried out in response to a drone attack that killed an American and injured six others .
US forces had carried out “precision airstrikes” in eastern Syria after the “Iranian-originated” drone attack, according to the Pentagon.
“US strikes targeted an arms depot in the town of Deir Ezzor, killing six pro-Iranian fighters,” said the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH). has an extensive network of sources in Syria.
“Five other fighters were killed by strikes on positions of Iranian groups near Mayadine and another near al-Boukamal,” the NGO added, according to which two of the eleven killed were Syrians.
Iranian groups and their allies, who fight alongside the regime in Damascus, are strongly established in these regions near the border with Iraq, which constitute an important crossing point for weapons bound for Syria.
The drone attack took place around 1:38 p.m. Thursday (6:38 a.m. Eastern Time) against a maintenance facility at a base near Al-Hasakah, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The deceased person is an American contractor, and the injured are five soldiers and another contractor who are also American, according to the same source.
“I have authorized United States Central Command forces to conduct precision airstrikes tonight in eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps,” it said. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was quoted in the statement.
“The airstrikes were carried out in response to today’s attack as well as a series of recent attacks on coalition forces in Syria by groups affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard Corps,” said he specified.
Several hundred American soldiers are in Syria as part of a coalition fighting against the remnants of the Islamic State (IS) group. They are frequently targeted in attacks by militias.
US troops support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the de facto army of the Kurds in the region, which led the battle that ousted IS from the last territories it controlled in Syria in 2019.
Two of the soldiers injured on Thursday were treated at the scene of the attack, while the other three soldiers and a US contractor were medically evacuated to Iraq, the Pentagon said.
“As President Biden has made clear, we will take all necessary action to defend our fellow citizens and always fight back when and where we choose,” Austin said.
Joe Biden is on an official visit to Canada.
In August 2022, the US president ordered similar retaliatory strikes in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor after a coalition outpost was attacked by multiple drones that left no casualties.
The attack came the day Iranian state media announced the death of a Revolutionary Guards general, killed a few days earlier, “during a mission in Syria as advisers military”.
Iran says it deployed its forces in Syria at the invitation of Damascus, and only as advisers.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards are the ideological arm of the Iranian military and are labeled a terrorist group by Washington.
On several occasions, the US-led international coalition has admitted carrying out strikes in eastern Syria against pro-Iranian fighters. Israel also regularly carries out strikes there, but rarely claims them.