The Pentagon said on Wednesday night that the US launched more airstrikes in eastern Syria that targeted a facility used by “Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups.”
“This strike was conducted by two US F-15s against a weapons storage facility,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement. He said the strike was “a response to a series of attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by IRGC-Quds Force affiliates,” referring to the Shia militias that operate in both countries.
The US launched similar airstrikes on October 27 in an attempt to “deter” further attacks on US forces in the region. But the rocket and drone fire on US bases has not stopped. At least 41 attacks have been reported since October 17, injuring at least 45 US troops.
An umbrella group of Shia militias that calls itself the Islamic Resistance of Iraq has taken credit for many of the attacks on US bases. The militias receive support from Iran, but it’s unclear if Tehran is directing the attacks. The Pentagon previously acknowledged it had no evidence of direct Iranian involvement.
For their part, Iran has denied any role in the attacks on US troops. Responding to US allegations, Iran’s representative to the UN said Tuesday that Tehran “has never been involved in any actions or attacks directed at the United States military forces in Syria and Iraq.”
There are no reports of casualties yet in the US strikes. If IRGC personnel were hit, it would risk a huge escalation with Iran.
Austin said the US urges against escalation, but it’s unlikely the Shia militias will back down as the US continues to support Israel’s onslaught on Gaza. “The United States is fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect our people and our facilities. We urge against any escalation. US personnel will continue to conduct counter-ISIS missions in Iraq and Syria,” Austin said.