The United States has carried out two more air strikes in Syria against facilities used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its aligned groups.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the “precision strikes” targeted a training facility near the city of Albu Kamal and a safe house near the city of Mayadeen, in response to continued attacks against US forces in Syria and Iraq.
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“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,” Austin said in a statement on Sunday.
Citing an unnamed local source, the Reuters news agency said the US strikes targeted a camp run by pro-Iranian armed groups in an area west of Albu Kamal, in Deir al Zor province. The other strike was near a bridge close to the city of Mayadeen, which is near the Iraqi border and is a stronghold of pro-Iranian armed groups, it added.
The Associated Press news agency said one of the sites also included weapons storage, citing a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of a military operation.
The US strike is the third in just over two weeks as Washington attempts to put an end to drone and rocket attacks against its forces in Syria and Iraq that began when the Israel-Hamas war started a month ago.
US and coalition troops have been attacked at least 40 times in Iraq and Syria by Iran-backed forces in recent weeks. About 56 troops have been injured in the attacks in Syria and Iraq, but all have returned to duty, according to the Pentagon.
The US has 900 troops in Syria and 2,500 more in neighbouring Iraq, which are on a mission to advise and assist local forces trying to prevent a resurgence of ISIL (ISIS), which took control of large swathes of both countries before it was eventually defeated.
The US is concerned that the Israel-Hamas conflict could spread through the Middle East and leave US troops at isolated bases exposed.
Iran and its supporters say the US shares responsibility for Israel’s declared war against the Palestinian armed group Hamas, which is also backed by Iran.