A service member from a US partner nation suffered a minor injury after a one-way attack drone struck al-Tanf garrison in Syria, a US defense official said Wednesday.
“A one-way attack drone launched against US and Coalition forces struck al-Tanf Garrison, Syria,” the official said. “There was one minor partner force casualty and minor damage to partner force infrastructure.”
Roughly 900 US troops are in Syria alongside partner forces as members of the anti-ISIS coalition. The drone strike brings the total number of attacks on US and partner forces in Iraq and Syria to at least 28 since October 17 – 16 in Iraq, and 12 in Syria.
At least seven of those have come since the US carried out airstrikes on two facilities linked to Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria last week. Those strikes were carried out by an F-15 fighter jet and a pair of F-16 fighter jets using precision-guided munitions.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the time that the “precision self-defense strikes” were in response to “ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against US personnel.”
“The United States does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against US forces are unacceptable and must stop,” Austin said in a statement. “Iran wants to hide its hand and deny its role in these attacks against our forces. We will not let them. If attacks by Iran’s proxies against US forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people.”
Following the US strikes last Thursday, a senior defense official emphasized that while the attacks may be coming from militia groups, it “all goes back to Tehran.”
“Iran is the center of gravity for what we’re seeing,” the official said. “Iran, through the IRGC arms, funds, trains, equip supports and directs a variety of militia groups across the region. So yes, there’s a direct tie between the militia groups and all the front organizations that claim responsibility for attacks against US personnel.”