The U.S. military conducted airstrikes against buildings in eastern Syria associated with Iran’s elite paramilitary and the proxy groups it controls on Thursday, the Pentagon said in a statement.
Since Oct. 17, Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq and Syria have conducted mostly unsuccessful drone and rocket assaults on bases hosting U.S. troops, generating pressure for President Joe Biden to order a counterattack. Repeated strikes compelled the Pentagon to rush additional air defenses to the Middle East, and Department of Defense (DOD) leaders warned of intensifying threats to American military personnel in the near term.
“Today, at President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces conducted self-defense strikes on two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in the statement. “These precision self-defense strikes are a response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that began on October 17.”
Twenty-one U.S. troops suffered minor injuries and have since returned to duty, the Pentagon said. One U.S. contractor suffered a heart attack during what turned out to be a false alarm while sheltering in place. (RELATED: Biden’s Nat Sec Adviser Claimed Admin Had ‘Restored’ Relations Between Gaza, Israel Days Before Attacks)
Military and defense leaders in the Pentagon believe Iran intends to continue militia strikes on U.S. troops in the Middle East that will provoke the U.S. into outright war and unleash simmering hostilities fueled by the so-far limited war between Israel and Gaza, allowing conflict to cascade across the Middle East.
Unsurprisingly, the drones look to be Iranian-made. pic.twitter.com/oUg2DfbWUW
— Michael A. Horowitz (@michaelh992) October 27, 2023
“The President has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today’s action to make clear that the United States will not tolerate such attacks and will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests,” Austin said, emphasizing that the U.S. has no desire to see conflict mushroom across the region.
“These Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must stop. Iran wants to hide its hand and deny its role in these attacks against our forces. We will not let them. If attacks by Iran’s proxies against U.S. forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people,” Austin said.
He reasserted that the strikes are meant to be defensive and disconnected from the war between Israel and Hamas and “do not constitute a shift in our approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict.”
Iran-backed Islamist groups in Iraq had threatened to target American forces if the U.S. intervened to help Israel in its war against Hamas.
“We continue to urge all state and non-state entities not to take action that would escalate into a broader regional conflict,” Austin said.
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