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  4. Drone strike kills US contractor in Syria; US retaliates 'will take all necessary measures'

Drone strike kills US contractor in Syria; US retaliates 'will take all necessary measures'

Syria: The pentagon has informed that a drone strike in Syria has killed a US contractor and five US service members and one other US contractor were wounded.

Edited By: Bhagya Luxmi @Bhagya_Luxmi Washington Updated on: March 24, 2023 9:46 IST
Drone strike kills US contractor in Syria US retaliates, Drone strike kills US contractor in Syria,
Image Source : AP Drone strike kills US contractor in Syria; US retaliates 'will take all necessary measures'

Syria: A suspected Iranian drone on Thursday struck a facility on a coalition base in northeast Syria resulting in the death of a US contractor. Moreover, five US service members and one other US contractor were wounded in the incident. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in a statement released late Thursday, said that US Central Command forces retaliated with “precision airstrikes” against facilities in eastern Syria used by groups affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Unmanned aerial vehicle was of Iranian origin

The Defence Department said the intelligence community had determined the unmanned aerial vehicle was of Iranian origin. “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 Revolutionary Guard, Austin said. Overnight, videos on social media purported to show explosions in Syria's Deir Ez-Zor, a strategic province that borders Iraq and contains oil fields.

Iran-backed militia groups and Syrian forces control the area

Iran-backed militia groups and Syrian forces control the area, which also has seen suspected airstrikes by Israel in recent months allegedly targeting Iranian supply routes. Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been suspected of carrying out attacks with bomb-carrying drones across the wider Middle East. In recent months, Russia has begun using Iranian drones in its attacks on sites across Ukraine as part of its war on Kyiv. Iran has denied being responsible for these attacks, though Western nations and experts have tied components in the drones back to Tehran.

The attack and the US response threaten to upend recent efforts in the region to de-escalate tensions, as Saudi Arabia and Iran have been working toward reopening embassies in each other's countries. The kingdom also acknowledged efforts to reopen its embassy in Syria, whose embattled President Bashar Assad has been backed by Iran in his country's long war.

No immediate reaction

Syria's state-run SANA news agency did not immediately acknowledge any strikes. Syria's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment. There was no immediate reaction from Iran over the strikes, which come during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Iran's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Qatar's state-run news agency reported a call between its foreign minister and Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser. Doha has been an interlocutor between Iran and the US recently amid tensions over Tehran's nuclear program. Qatar's foreign minister also spoke around the same time with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. Austin said he authorised the retaliatory strikes at the direction of President Joe Biden.

US will take necessary measures 

“As President Biden has made clear, we will take all necessary measures to defend our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing,” Austin said. “No group will strike our troops with impunity.” The Pentagon said two of the wounded service members were treated on site, while three others and the injured contractor were transported to medical facilities in Iraq.

(with inputs from Agencies)

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