The U.S. ordered strikes on facilities controlled by Iranian-backed militia groups on Thursday night in retaliation for a drone attack that killed an American contractor earlier that day.
The drone attack at an American coalition base near Hasakah in northeast Syria also injured five U.S. troops and another contractor.
U.S. officials connected the drone to a militia backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Following the retaliatory strikes, the head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. Michael Kurilla, said the U.S. will “always take all necessary measures to defend our people and will always respond at a time and place of our choosing.”
“Our troops remain in Syria to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS, which benefits the security and stability of not only Syria, but the entire region,” Kurilla said in a statement.
On Friday, rockets struck another U.S. base in northeastern Syria, called Green Village. No one was injured in Friday’s attack.
The fighting this week has renewed focus on the American military presence in Syria.
U.S. troops primarily train and assist Syrian allies in the eastern part of the country to combat the designated terrorist group ISIS.
But since 2021, Iranian proxy groups have attacked U.S. bases and forces at least 78 times, according to Kurilla.
Kurilla also told a House Armed Services Hearing this week that Iran “remains the primary destabilizing element” in the Middle East.
“The Iran of 2023 is not the Iran of 1983,” Kurilla said, referring to the year Washington launched CENTCOM. “Iran today is exponentially more militarily capable than what it was even five years ago.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced a resolution earlier this month that would have forced the withdrawal of roughly 900 U.S. troops remaining in Syria, but the measure failed to pass in the House.
Find more coverage of the U.S. military on The Hill’s defense page.