Updated Nov 13, 2023 - World

U.S. strikes more Iran-linked sites in Syria, Pentagon says

U.S. military planes flying in blue sky at an undisclosed location.

Photo: U.S. Department of Defense

U.S. military forces conducted "precision" airstrikes on facilities in Syria used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iranian-affiliated groups on Sunday, the Pentagon said.

The big picture: It's the third time since Oct. 26 that American forces have conducted such strikes in what Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says is "in response to continued attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria."

  • The actions of Iran and the militant groups it backs are forcing Israel and the U.S. to contend with the possibility that the Israel-Hamas war could explode into a wider regional conflagration, per Axios' Dave Lawler.
  • Iranian-backed militias have attacked U.S. bases and facilities in Iraq and Syria 41 times since the Israel-Hamas war began last month, per Pentagon officials.

State of play: Attacks in Iraq and Syria have since Oct. 17 left at least 56 U.S. personnel with a "combination of traumatic brain injury and minor injuries," though officials say all have returned to work.

  • Biden took the rare step late last month of sending a message directly to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warning him not to target U.S. troops in the Middle East, Axios' Hans Nichols and Barak Ravid note.

Zoom in: The latest U.S. airstrikes were conducted in eastern Syria "against a training facility and a safe house near the cities of Abu Kamal and Mayadin, respectively," according to Austin's statement Sunday.

  • President Biden "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," Austin added.

By the numbers: About 2,500 U.S. troops have remained in Iraq and another 900 in Syria since the ouster of ISIS from its final piece of territory in 2019 to deal with lingering threats from remnants of the militant group.

Go deeper... Behind the Curtain: Biden fears wider war in Middle East

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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