American aircraft on Sunday struck a weapons storage facility and a command-and-control center used by Iran-linked militants in Syria in the latest round of retaliatory strikes amid continued attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East, officials said.
“Within the last two hours, the U.S. has taken precision defensive strikes against two sites in Syria,” one official told ABC News.
The operation was in response to what the Pentagon has called ongoing attacks, injuring dozens of American troops, by proxy fighters supported by Iran since the Israel-Hamas war began after Hamas’ terror attack last month.
The U.S. military said the strikes are part of a larger strategy of deterrence intended to keep other groups from escalating conflict in the region, where tensions have been sharply inflamed by the fighting between Israel and Hamas.
The tit for tat comes as regional tensions flare over the Israel-Hamas war. Unless an attack causes multiple American casualties or serious damage to U.S. assets, experts don’t expect to see the Biden administration changing its posture in any major way. But the exchange of fire has already injured dozens of U.S. troops and adds to the dangerous landscape facing the Biden administration in the Middle East. And the assaults are not expected to let up.
Militant groups have already come close to inflicting major damage on U.S. forces. In an early morning Oct. 26 incident, a drone launched at the Erbil air base in Iraq made it through U.S. air defenses, crashing into a barracks housing American troops, Reuters reported Thursday. The heavily explosive-laden drone failed to detonate, however, with only one service member suffering a concussion, officials told the outlet. Lord described the steady uptick of attacks on U.S. troops as “increasing escalation on a dimmer switch,” injecting a bit of uncertainty into American decision-making.
“Historically, the red line that has drawn a U.S. response has been either serious injury or, more often than not, the killing of U.S. forces or personnel,” he said. “Obviously that creates a pretty terrible dilemma for the president because no one wants to sit around and wait for these attacks to ultimately claim another American life before responding.”