14 dead in US strikes on Syria after drone kills American contractor

Attack carried out in retaliation for drone that struck facility and killed US citizen


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Published: Fri 24 Mar 2023, 10:19 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 Mar 2023, 10:41 PM

Fourteen fighters were killed in US air strikes on Syria carried out in retaliation for a drone attack that killed an American and wounded six others, a war monitor said Friday.

A US contractor was killed, and another contractor and five US service personnel wounded, when a kamikaze drone struck a maintenance facility on a base of the US-led coalition near Hasakeh in northeastern Syria, the Pentagon said.

In response, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that, at President Joe Biden's direction, he had ordered "precision air strikes tonight in eastern Syria against facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps".

"The air strikes 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," Austin said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor with a wide network of sources on the ground, said 14 people had been killed by US strikes, including nine Syrians.

"US strikes targeted a weapons depot inside Deir Ezzor city, killing six pro-Iran fighters, and two other fighters were killed by strikes targeting the desert of Al-Mayadeen, and six others near Albu Kamal," said the Observatory's head, Rami Abdel Rahman.

On Friday morning, Iran-backed groups stationed near the city of Al-Mayadeen fired three missiles near a US base, Abdel Rahman said.

Two missiles struck in Syria's largest oil field, Al-Omar, which houses the US base, without causing damage, while the third hit a civilian house nearby, he added.

Major John Moore, a spokesperson for the US military's Central Command (CENTCOM), confirmed the attack to AFP.

"We can confirm there was a rocket attack on Green Village in Syria," he said, adding: "There were no casualties."

A second CENTCOM spokesperson, Captain Abigail Hammock, later told AFP that "there were 10 rockets fired" at "approximately 8:05 am (0605 GMT) in Syria".

The rocket that struck a civilian house fell short of the base by almost five kilometres (around three miles) "causing significant damage and causing minor injuries to two women and two children," she said.

The United States deploys about 900 troops in bases and posts across northeastern Syria as part of the international coalition fighting remnants of Daesh.

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