United States carries out an airstrike in eastern Syria targeting IRGC and Iranian-backed groups
Nov 8, 2023, 5:11 PM | Updated: 5:21 pm
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
(CNN) — Two US F-15 fighter jets conducted an airstrike on a weapons storage facility in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
“This precision self-defense strike is a response to a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by IRGC-Quds Force affiliates,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. “The President has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today’s action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests.”
“The United States is fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect our people and our facilities,” he added. “We urge against any escalation.”
The US strike is the second time the US has hit facilities used by Iranian-backed groups in response to nearly daily attacks by Iranian proxies on US forces in Iraq and Syria. On Oct. 26, a US F-15 and two F-16s used precision-guided munitions to strike two facilities linked to Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria.
US and coalition forces have been targeted at least 41 times since Oct. 17 by one-way attack drones or rocket attacks — the latest being a multi-rocket attack on US and coalition forces at Shaddadi, Syria.
Wednesday’s attack did not result in casualties or any damage to infrastructure, according to a US official.
More than 40 troops sustained minor injuries in attacks before the US’ strike on October 26, including at least 20 traumatic brain injuries.
The US strike comes the same day that an unmanned US MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down off the coast of Yemen by Iran-backed Houthi forces. US Central Command is investigating the incident.
CNN previously reported that Iran-backed groups are planning to increase its attacks on US forces in the Middle East as Iran seeks to take advantage of backlash in the region to US support of Israel in the wake of Hamas’ brutal attack on October 7.
Since Oct. 7, and the increasingly frequent attacks of US troops in the region, the US has sent significant firepower to the Middle East as a deterrence to widening the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and in support of forces in the region.
Among the deployed capabilities are two carrier strike groups, which each employ thousands of sailors and several guided missile destroyers; various aircraft including F-15 and F-16 fighters; and roughly 1,200 troops including those attached to Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries.
This story is breaking and will be updated.