Defense secretary says strikes in response to attacks on US troops and warns others against triggering ‘broader regional conflict
According to the Guardian: US facilities in Iraq and Syria have been hit by a series of low-level attacks by drones and rockets over the past 10 days that have been claimed by Iran-backed militia, amid growing fears that the Hamas-Israel war could escalate into a regional conflict.
In what the US is calling self-defense and targeted attacks on non-civilians, “The US military has launched airstrikes on two locations in eastern Syria linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), signalling a new willingness in Washington to engage its forces directly in the crisis in the Middle East.
The strikes, which the Pentagon said hit a weapons storage facility and an ammunition storage facility used by the IRGC and militia it backs, were the first such US military intervention since war broke out between Hamas and Israel on 7 October.”
The US retaliatory strikes were carried out by two F-16 fighter jets at about 4.30am on Friday near Abu Kamal, a Syrian town on the border with Iraq, where the US has a major base that has been the target of several recent attacks by Iran-backed militia. It was unclear if Iranian nationals were killed.
The US defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, described “self-defense strikes” and said Biden had directed the tailored strikes “to make clear that the United States will not tolerate such attacks and will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests”
A senior defense official called Iran “the center of gravity” for the attacks on US forces in the region, saying that “Iranian fingerprints are all over this. Tehran and Iranian senior leaders are funding, arming, equipping, training and directing a whole plethora of militia groups across the region, and they have escalated attacks against US forces since October 17, which is why we took self-defense action tonight,” the official said.CNN