WASHINGTON – The Pentagon said Thursday that an additional six troops were injured in attacks last week in northeastern Syria that U.S. officials have blamed on Iranian-backed militants.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon spokesman, said the six were in addition to the death of an American contractor and the wounding of six troops and another contractor in the two separate attacks.
Ryder said four American service members at Hasakah and two at Green Village have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries and are being treated at their bases. Evaluations are continuing on personnel at the bases.
He said at a news conference that the United States now assesses that eight militants, all associated with Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, were killed in the American counterstrikes by fighter jets.
The initial strike by militants on March 23 — by a small, suicide drone — set off a series of retaliatory bombings. The top U.S. commander for the Middle East, Gen. Erik Kurilla, quickly warned that the U.S. was prepared to launch more attacks if needed.
The drone attack was followed by two simultaneous strikes against U.S. forces late on March 24. The U.S. retaliated with strikes on two Guard locations.
Then came a rocket attack by militant's on the Conoco gas plant where U.S. troops are stationed; one service member was wounded and is in stable condition. At about the same time, several drones were launched at Green Village, in Deir el-Zour province where U.S. troops are also based. All but one of the drones was shot down and there were no U.S. injuries there.
Independent reports on the numbers of people killed and wounded in the U.S. strikes varied.
The activist group Deir Ezzor 24, which covers news in the province, said four people were killed and a number of others were wounded. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said 11 Iranian-backed fighters were killed, including six at an arms depot in the Harabesh neighborhood in the city of Deir el-Zour and five at military posts near the towns of Mayadeen and Boukamal.