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U.S. F-16. File photo: Wikicommons.

U.S. strikes Iranian-backed forces in Syria

The United States early Friday carried out airstrikes in Syria taking out two sites linked to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard, according to the Pentagon.

US officials told reporters the strikes were carried out by F-16s against a weapons storage area, and an ammunition storage area, near Abu Kamal in Syria.

The “precision self-defense strikes” were “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 in a statement.

Information about the specific targets and other details weren’t provided.

There have been at least 12 attacks on U.S. bases and personnel in Iraq and four in Syria by Iran-backed forces since the attacks on Israel by Hamas Oct. 17, according to the Pentagon. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah are all backed by Tehran.

Observers say the U.S. response is also a message to Iran not to get involved in Israel’s ground offensive to destroy Hamas after it murdered more than 1,400 Israelis and continues to launch hundreds of rockets into Israeli communities.

Israel on Thursday launched a massive incursion into Gaza to destroy terrorist infrastructure and weapons but then withdrew in what is seen as a precursor to a much larger ground response in the coming days.

The  White House has come under increasing criticism this week for not responding to the attacks by Irania-backed forces on U.S. military personnel. Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said 21 U.S. personnel were injured in two of those assaults by drones targeting al-Asad Airbase in Iraq and al-Tanf Garrison in Syria.

National Security Council spokesman Adm. John Kirby had earlier on Thursday confirmed to reporters that President Biden had conveyed a “direct message” to Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warning Tehran and its proxies against targeting U.S. troops in the Middle East.

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, when asked at a press conference about the possibility of a confrontation with Iran, said Israel has “no interest in expanding the war.”

–Dwight Widaman and Wire services


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