US airstrikes target Iran-linked militia bases in eastern Syria

HASAKAH, Syria — In response to a series of drone and missile attacks against US bases and personnel in the Middle East, US jet fighters carried out precision airstrikes early Friday on two locations in eastern Syria. The strikes targeted bases associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as confirmed by the Pentagon.

The US retaliatory strikes come after a series of attacks against American military assets in the region, with at least 19 such incidents reported over the past two weeks. The most recent attacks involved drones targeting the Al-Asad Airbase in Iraq and the Al-Tanf Garrison in Syria, resulting in 21 US personnel sustaining minor injuries. The Pentagon’s statement emphasized that these “ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks” prompted the decision for self-defense strikes.

The two F-16 jet fighters responsible for the precision strikes targeted weapons and ammunition storage areas near al-Bukamal, Syria. According to a senior US military official, the strikes focused on the types of munitions used in previous attacks against US forces. It was noted that there were Iranian-aligned militia and IRGC personnel on the targeted bases, but no information regarding casualties or damage assessment was immediately available. The official did not disclose the number of munitions used in the operation.

The Biden Administration has refrained from directly accusing Iran of involvement in the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October, though it acknowledges Iran’s longstanding support for Hamas. There are concerns that Iran and its proxies could potentially escalate the situation into a broader regional conflict.

While the US has stated that it does not seek a broader conflict, it is prepared to take additional action to protect its forces if Iranian proxy groups continue their attacks on US bases and personnel.

These precision strikes in Syria mark a familiar response from the United States. In March, the US targeted sites in Syria associated with the IRGC after an Iranian-linked attack killed a US contractor and wounded several other US personnel in North and East Syria.

The Pentagon has also taken measures to enhance air defenses in the region, with the deployment of Patriot missile systems and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries. About 900 troops have been deployed to the Middle East, including those associated with the air defense systems, according to US Department of Defense Spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder.