The United States on Thursday conducted strikes on two facilities in eastern Syria that were used by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) and its aligned organizations, the Department of Defense confirmed.
“These precision self-defense strikes are a response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that began on October 17,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said. “The President has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today’s action to make clear that the United States will not tolerate such attacks and will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests.”
“The United States does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must stop,” he continued. “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 U.S. forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people.”
Austin described the U.S. operations as “narrowly tailored strikes in self-defense” and insisted that the move did not represent any shift in the administration’s stance on the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. American forces have come under fire from myriad groups across the Middle East as hostilities continue in the wake of an Oct. 7 Hamas raid on Israel that has since prompted retaliatory strikes on the Gaza Strip and cross-border exchanges between Israel and its northern neighbors, Lebanon and Syria.
The Pentagon has already dispatched two aircraft carrier groups to the eastern Mediterranean Sea in anticipation of increased hostilities should Israel follow through with an expected invasion of the Gaza Strip. Moreover, the military has selected roughly 2,000 troops for possible deployment in support of Israel, though American personnel are not expected to take part in active combat.