June 21, 2024

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US strikes Iranian-linked targets in Syria

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The US military struck two facilities in eastern Syria that it identified as linked to Iranian-backed militias, defence secretary Lloyd Austin said, following more than a dozen attacks on American forces in the region in recent weeks.

US officials framed the strikes as self-defence, but the action, the first since war broke out between Hamas and Israel this month, could raise fears of spillover conflict across the region.

The strikes followed 19 rocket and drone attacks on US forces and bases in Iraq and Syria since October 17, which have injured 21 service members. One US citizen contractor died from a heart attack while running to shelter.

Austin described the strikes as “narrowly tailored” and defensive, aimed at protecting US forces in Iraq and Syria. “These precision self-defence strikes are a response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups,” he said.

The facilities near Abu Kamal in Syria were used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated groups, defence officials said. One was a weapons storage area and the other an ammunitions storage area. Two American F-16s carried out the strikes on Friday morning.

The strikes demonstrate the Biden administration’s effort to deter Iran from targeting US forces in the region while avoiding further inflaming a conflict between Israel and Hamas, which is backed by Tehran.

“We do not seek to widen the conflict nor escalate it,” a senior US defence official said. “Our desire is for Iran’s most senior leaders to direct their proxies and militias to cease these attacks on US personnel in Iraq and Syria.”

The strikes come as Washington is strengthening its troop presence and air defences in the Middle East. Since Hamas launched a surprise assault on Israel on October 7, the…



2023-10-27 00:06:50

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