Two dozen American service members were injured last week in a series of drone strikes on American bases in Iraq and Syria, U.S. Central Command told NBC News on Tuesday.
The Pentagon confirmed the attacks last week, but the number of U.S. casualties has not yet been disclosed.
Twenty American personnel suffered minor injuries on October 18 when at least two disposable attack drones attacked the al-Tanf military base in southern Syria, CENTCOM said.
One of the drones was shot down. All wounded personnel have returned to duty, CENTCOM said, and there was no damage to military facilities.
That same day, another four American soldiers suffered minor injuries in two separate drone strikes against U.S. and coalition troops stationed at the al-Asad base in western Iraq, CENTCOM said.
The U.S. shot down the disposable attack drones, but debris from one destroyed a hangar containing small aircraft, CENTCOM said. All injured employees returned to duty.
An American civilian contractor died as a result of a heart attack during a protective order that did not occur during one of the drone strikes.
The attacks came amid rising tensions in the region over the conflict in Israel.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said Tuesday that U.S. and coalition forces were attacked at least 10 times in Iraq and three times in Syria last week “with a mix of disposable drones and missiles.”
Ryder said the groups carrying out the attacks were backed by Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“What we are seeing is the prospect of greater escalation against U.S. forces and personnel across the region in the very near future, coming from Iranian proxy forces and ultimately from Iran,” Ryder said.
“We always reserve the right to defend ourselves and we will never hesitate to take action when necessary to protect our armed forces and our interests abroad,” he added.
Source : www.nbcnews.com