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US Retaliates against Iran with Airstrikes in Syria after Drone Attack Kills Contractor

US Retaliates against Iran with Airstrikes in Syria

The US military responded with “precision airstrikes” in Syria after an Iranian-made drone attack killed a US contractor and wounded five American troops and another contractor in north-east Syria. The Pentagon said the airstrikes targeted facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, while activist groups claimed that at least four people were killed in the strikes. The incident threatened to upend recent efforts to de-escalate tensions across the wider Middle East, where rival powers have made steps towards detente in recent days after years of turmoil.

Iran relies on a network of proxy forces throughout the Middle East to counter the US and Israel, its arch-regional enemy. The US defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, said that American intelligence had determined the drone was of Iranian origin, but offered no other immediate evidence to support the claim. The attack and the US response came as Saudi Arabia and Iran have been working towards reopening embassies in each other’s countries, and the US and Iran have been engaged in a delicate dance of diplomacy.

US Retaliates against Iran with Airstrikes in Syria after Drone Attack Kills Contractor

The US counter strikes were conducted by F-15 fighter jets from the al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, and a defence official said that the airstrikes were intended to target facilities used by groups affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard. The strikes also hurt people, including Iraqis, according to activist reports. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said that the American strikes killed six Iranian-backed fighters at an arms depot in the city of Deir el-Zour, while another strike hit a military post near the town of Mayadeen, killing two fighters.

The exchange of strikes comes as parts of the Middle East have made steps towards deescalation, with Iran and Saudi Arabia working towards reopening embassies in each other’s countries. However, the US has been increasingly critical of Iran’s activities in the region, and the incident highlights the ongoing tensions between the two countries. General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, the head of the American military’s Central Command, said that American forces could carry out additional strikes if needed, and that the “Iran of today is exponentially more militarily capable than it was even five years ago”.

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