According to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, nine individuals were killed in US airstrikes on an Iran-linked weapons storage facility in eastern Syria. These strikes were conducted in response to attacks on American personnel. This is the second time in a span of about two weeks that the US has targeted a location in Syria tied to Iran, which has been supporting various armed groups blamed by Washington for increased attacks on US forces in the Middle East.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the nine individuals were associated with Iran-backed groups. The US is working towards preventing Iran and its proxies from escalating the conflict in Gaza into a regional war involving Israel.
However, the repeated attacks and subsequent strikes pose a risk of conflict between Washington and Tehran. It is important to note that the strikes on US bases in Syria and Iraq have been attributed to Washington’s support for Israel, which has been carrying out a lethal campaign in Gaza for over a month.
According to a high-ranking American military official, the location in Deir Ez-zor province had been closely monitored by the United States to determine the best time for a targeted strike that would result in a minimal number of casualties. However, it is possible that some casualties still occurred.
The official mentioned that they were tracking only a small number of individuals just prior to the strike, although there is no confirmation of their presence.
Additionally, the US military carried out strikes on two facilities in Syria on October 26. These facilities were claimed to be used by the IRGC and affiliated groups, but the assessment concluded that these strikes did not cause any casualties.
Similar to the most recent strike, these earlier two strikes were a response to attacks on US personnel. Since October 17, there have been more than 40 instances of rockets and drones targeting US troops.
The increased number of attacks on US troops is believed to be connected to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza. The Israeli bombings, which have been indiscriminate and relentless, have resulted in the deaths of over 10,550 Palestinians since October 7.
Children make up nearly half of the casualties in the ongoing Israeli shelling, which has resulted in the destruction of residential buildings, hospitals, and places of worship during the month-long bombing campaign.
Currently, there are around 2,500 American troops in Iraq and approximately 900 in Syria. Their presence aims to prevent any resurgence of the Islamic State group, which previously held substantial territory in both countries but was ultimately pushed back by local forces with the backing of international airstrikes after a long and violent conflict.
In an incident related to Israel’s conflict with Gaza, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed to have shot down an American drone. The rebels stated that the drone was engaged in hostile surveillance and espionage activities in Yemeni territorial waters as part of the United States’ military support for Israel.
Senior US officials have confirmed that one of the country’s drones was shot down by the rebels in Yemen, the Houthis. These officials also mentioned that the United States rushed military support to Israel and increased the presence of American forces in the area after the attack on October 7. The Houthis, who are against the Yemeni government and part of the “axis of resistance” against Israel, have claimed responsibility for various drone and missile attacks on Israel during the ongoing war. Last month, the US Navy intercepted missiles launched by the rebels.
Over the past few years, several MQ-9 drones, which are capable of long-range flights and both surveillance and strikes, have been lost or damaged, including one that was assessed by the United States to have been shot down by the Houthis in 2019.