On Thursday, the U.S. launched strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria in response to a series of drone attacks on American military bases in the region. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the strikes were conducted on two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups. These strikes were deemed as self-defense measures against ongoing attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups, which had resulted in one U.S. citizen contractor’s death and injuries to 21 U.S. personnel.
The attacks had been occurring since October 17, with at least 19 separate incidents targeting U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria using a mix of drones and rockets. While the U.S. military action was in response to these events, it was emphasized that it was separate from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and it did not represent a shift in the U.S. approach to that conflict.
President Biden had previously warned Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that the U.S. would respond if Iran-linked forces continued to target American troops. The strikes in Syria were reportedly conducted on a weapons storage area and an ammunition storage area, and the U.S. did not coordinate with Israel for these strikes.
While battle damage assessments were still ongoing, U.S. officials could not confirm whether there were any casualties or Iranians present at the targeted sites. Defense Secretary Austin emphasized that the safety of U.S. personnel was the highest priority and that the U.S. would not tolerate such attacks, while also stating that the U.S. did not seek further hostilities.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, pointed out that the groups conducting the attacks were supported by Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, emphasizing the U.S.’s right to self-defense and its willingness to protect its forces and interests overseas.
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