The United States carried out airstrikes Sunday evening against two facilities used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies in eastern Syria, Pentagon officials said, in the latest retaliation for what is become a daily barrage of rocket and drone attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Iraq. Syria.
Air Force F-15E fighter jets struck several buildings in Abu Kamal used for training, logistics and ammunition storage, as well as a shelter in Mayadin used as a command headquarters, officials said.
The strikes came just four days after U.S. military jets struck a munitions warehouse in eastern Syria. Pentagon officials say the latest two rounds of strikes, as well as the one on Oct. 27, were aimed at deterring Iran and the militias it supports in Syria and Iraq, which the Biden administration has blamed for the attacks.
President Biden has rejected more aggressive bombing options proposed by the Pentagon, for fear of provoking a wider conflict with Iran. But the White House’s responses so far have been so narrow that Republican critics in Congress and some air power advocates say they only invite more frequent and dangerous attacks on U.S. troops in the region.
The Pentagon and other Biden administration officials rejected the criticism Sunday, saying the U.S. airstrikes were an act of self-defense, commensurate with attacks by Iranian-backed militias intended to disrupt militia activities.
“The President has no higher priority than the safety of American personnel, and he ordered today’s action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel and its interests. ” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement during his trip. in Asia.
Pentagon officials said Iranian-backed militias were present at the bombed sites, but U.S. analysts were unable to provide an immediate casualty assessment.
The Pentagon said Sunday that there have been at least 48 attacks on U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq since Oct. 17 and that at least 56 U.S. service members have been injured. About half of them suffered head injuries and two had to be flown to the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, for treatment.
The United States has 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 in Syria, mainly to help local forces fight remnants of the Islamic State.
The United States has shifted its military assets to the Middle East since Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on October 7 to try to prevent a regional war that could draw American forces into conflict with Iranian proxies in Lebanon, in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.
It has deployed an aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean near Israel, and another recently left the Red Sea and is heading to the Arabian Sea. The Pentagon also sent dozens of additional warplanes to the Persian Gulf region, as well as additional Patriot anti-missile batteries and other air defense systems to several Gulf countries to protect U.S. troops and bases in the region.
So far, these air defenses have mostly succeeded in neutralizing threats to U.S. military personnel, but U.S. military officials say soldiers have been lucky that none have been killed as the attacks were multiplying.
“It is abundantly clear that Iran and its mandated groups are escalating their action against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, and we have a range of options to defend ourselves,” said Dana Stroul, the most senior Pentagon policy official in the Middle East, in the House of Representatives. committee last week.