July 15, 2024

The U.S on Sunday launched strikes on two facilities in Syria with links to Iran and Iranian proxies, marking the latest retaliatory action amid an uptick in attacks against U.S. troops in the Middle East, according to the Pentagon.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Sunday the strikes hit a training facility near the city of Abu Kamal, along with a safe house near the city of Mayan, which were used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affliated groups.

A U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity with the Associated Press said one of the sites housed weapons.

The U.S. has launched targeted retaliatory strikes in response to a recent increase in attacks on American troops and assets in the Middle East. The increased activity began shortly after the war between militant group Hamas and Israel broke out early last month, with some world leaders concerned Iran and its proxies could seek to widen the conflict and destabilize the region.

Hamas has been backed by Iran in the past, though it is not immediately clear the exact role Iran or its proxies played in the Oct. 7 attack, which killed over 1,200 people in Israel, including hundreds of civilians.

U.S. troops based in Iraq and Syria have been attacked at least 48 times since Oct. 17, with dozens of minor injuries reported. At least 56 troops have been injured in the attacks.

As of Sunday, the assaults were evenly split among Iraq and Syria, with 24 attacks each in Iraq and Syria, all involving explosive drones and rockets, a defense official confirmed to The Hill.

“The President has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today’s [Sunday’s] action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests,” Austin said in statement on Sunday.

Sunday’s attacks in Syria marked the third strike President Biden has authorized on facilities the Pentagon states are used by Iran and the militant group it supports, with two launched on Oct. 26 and one last Wednesday in eastern Syria.

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