The U.S. can no longer take a reactive stance toward Iran after a new Pentagon report revised the total number of troops killed by Iran-backed groups continues to rise, experts told Fox News Digital.
“Iran’s regional strategy of working through proxies and carve outs is continuing unabated,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow and Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said. “The open question is, when will the Biden administration ditch tit-for-tat strikes and work to rollback Iran’s Shiite militia network in the heartland of the Middle East?”
President Biden ordered a series of retaliatory precision airstrikes in Syria on Thursday, reportedly killing eight Iranians, after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps crashed a UAV into a building, killing a U.S. contractor and wounding six other Americans.
U.S. intelligence assessed the UAV that crashed into a coalition base, which killed the contractor, was of Iranian origin — so President Biden authorized the military to retaliate, the Pentagon said. The Pentagon said the U.S. took “proportionate and deliberate action” that limited the risk of escalation in its targeted response.
Taleblu said that such a reactionary response will only lead to further attacks and more deaths.
Lisa Daftari, a Middle East expert and the editor-in-chief of The Foreign Desk, said that Iran’s attacks via proxy groups on U.S. targets serve as both a message to the White House and a “flexing tool” to convey to the Iranian people that Western sanctions and efforts to isolate Tehran “will not work.”
“Iran-backed militias have made 29 attacks against U.S. targets in Syria and Iraq just since October without any show of force by American forces,” Daftari explained.
“The fact that there has not been any retaliation or consequences to these targeted hits on American assets tells the mullahs that the U.S. lacks resolve or strength and would rather tread more gingerly through various routes of diplomacy,” she continued. “While the White House can make the argument that they’re not looking to escalate, more damage is being done through its passive response.”
“The mullahs will find and declare strength where they can, and right now, the U.S. is enabling them.”
The Pentagon and National Security Council did not respond to Fox News Digital requests for comment by time of publication.