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US conducts strikes in Syria on ‘Iran-linked’ targets

US sources say that locations hit were being used by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and local fighters backed by them.

The US military forces on Thursday (US local time) conducted strikes on two facilities in eastern Syria reportedly used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups.
The strikes which were conducted on US President Joe Biden’s direction, are a response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that began on October 17, as per a statement by the US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.
As a result of these attacks, one US citizen contractor died from a cardiac incident while sheltering in place; 21 US personnel suffered from minor injuries, but all have since returned to duty.
The US Defence Secretary said that Thursday’s actions show that President Biden has no higher priority than the safety of US personnel. Austin said the US will not tolerate “such attacks and will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests.”

He said: “The US does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against US 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 US forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people.”
Austin said the “narrowly tailored strikes in self-defence were intended solely to protect and defend US personnel in Iraq and Syria. They are separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas and do not constitute a shift in our approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict. We continue to urge all state and non-state entities not to take action that would escalate into a broader regional conflict.”
Earlier, White House National Security Council (NSC) spokesman John Kirby had said the US would respond to the attacks at a “time of our choosing and a manner of our choosing”.
His comments came after the US Department of Defence said US and allied forces in Iraq and Syria had been attacked at least 16 times this month by “Iranian-backed militia groups”.
According to Al Jazeera, attacks on US forces in the region have spiked since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
Joe Biden recently said that he had directly warned Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei against targeting US troops in the Middle East.
“My warning to the Ayatollah was that if they continue to move against those troops, we will respond, and he should be prepared,” Biden told reporters, adding it has “nothing to do” with Israel.
Washington and Tehran do not have formal diplomatic relations, and Biden did not say how the message was communicated.
An aide to Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi Mohammad Jamshidi said: “The US messages were neither directed to the leader of the Islamic Revolution nor were they anything but requests from the Iranian side,” he said.
“If Biden thinks he has warned Iran, he should ask his team to show him the text of the messages.”
US officials are concerned about the possibility of fighting between Israel and Hamas escalating into a broader regional conflict, as per Al Jazeera.