Iran-backed proxy groups fired missiles at a U.S. military base near Al-Omar oil field in Syria on Friday after the U.S. killed eight militants in retaliatory airstrikes.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby called the Friday missile attack ineffective. No U.S. injuries were reported, according to Reuters.
The attack came after the United States delivered airstrikes against what the U.S. military said were facilities belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The American airstrikes hit a munition warehouse, a control building, and an intelligence-collection site, killing eight militants, according to The New York Times.
U.S. forces suffered one casualty after a drone of “Iranian origin” struck a U.S. coalition base on Thursday afternoon. Five U.S. service members and another contractor were also injured in the attack.
The family of the dead contractor was notified Thursday night, Kirby said during a Friday morning appearance on CNN. The contractor was an American citizen.
Kirby stated that the U.S. would protect its service members and bases in the wake of the deadly attack. He said that the U.S. has made clear to Iran that it should not be involved in militant attacks on U.S.-led forces in Syria or elsewhere. He noted that Iran has continued to arm and train militants in Syria, however.
Asked if the U.S. would seek war with Iran over the drone strike, Kirby said no.
“We don’t seek a war with Iran. We’re not looking for an armed conflict with that country, or another war in the region,” Kirby said. “We do seek to make sure we can protect our people and our facilities against these Iran-backed groups. These are militant groups that Iran is funding, resourcing, even training. And they’ve got facilities there, Iran and the IRGC has facilities there in Syria from which a lot of that resourcing and training and facilitation occurs, and it was against some of those targets again that we struck back last night.”
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"We're going to work to protect our people and our facilities as best we can. It's a dangerous environment."
NSC Spokesman John Kirby joins with the WH response to the drone strike in Syria which killed an American contractor and injured five servicemembers: pic.twitter.com/1QwyJ3k812
— CNN This Morning (@CNNThisMorning) March 24, 2023
Militant attacks on U.S. forces are common in Syria. Since 2021, the Pentagon estimates that Iran-backed groups have carried out 78 attacks on U.S. troops in the country.
The U.S. military has over 900 troops and hundreds more contractors in Syria working with Kurdish fighters to ensure that the Islamic State, which controlled much of Syria and Iraq in 2014, cannot rebuild itself, according to the Times. Though the Islamic State has been pushed from most of its territory, pockets of terror groups still exist and continue to attack coalition forces.