A suspected Iranian drone has killed a U.S. contractor at a coalition base in northeast Syria, according to the Pentagon. The incident occurred on Thursday and has been described as an act of aggression by the United States.
In response, the U.S. military carried out retaliatory strikes against Iranian-backed militia groups operating in both Syria and Iraq. The Pentagon said that multiple targets were hit and several casualties have been reported.
"Today's attack on our personnel is an unacceptable act of cowardice," stated Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. "We will not tolerate attacks against American forces, and those who wish to harm our troops will be held accountable."
The identity of the slain contractor has not yet been released pending notification of next-of-kin. It is unclear whether any other personnel were injured in the attack.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have remained high since former President Donald Trump withdrew from a nuclear deal with Iran in 2018. President Joe Biden has expressed his desire to rejoin negotiations with Iran but so far no progress has been made.
This latest incident highlights once again the ongoing conflict between various factions operating within Syria, including foreign powers such as Russia and Turkey, which support opposing sides in the country's civil war.
The situation also underscores America's continued presence within Syria despite calls for withdrawal from some quarters at home and abroad. The use of drones by both sides further demonstrates how modern technology is being deployed to deadly effect on battlefields around the world.