The Nov. 12 airstrikes were the latest U.S. retaliation against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxy groups. The Pentagon says those groups have launched dozens of rocket and drone attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria in recent weeks. Such attacks have occurred periodically over the past few years, but the frequency has increased dramatically since the militant group Hamas launched its Oct. 7 terrorist assault on Israel.
Iran is Hamas’ chief financial backer, and the regime in Tehran has openly praised the Oct. 7 operation against Israel.
The Pentagon has warned Iran that attacks on American personnel must stop.
“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,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Sunday evening in a statement.
The unclassified video footage released by the Pentagon shows two sites in Syria exploding in flames after the airstrikes.
The U.S. in recent weeks has surged military assets, including two aircraft carrier strike groups, to the Middle East as a show of support for Israel and as a deterrent against Iran and its proxies. The string of attacks by Iran-linked militias has wounded at least 21 U.S. service members and led to one American contractor dying from a cardiac incident while sheltering in place.
Tensions between the two nations are now at their highest point since early 2020, when the U.S. and Iran nearly went to war after a U.S. airstrike killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
The Pentagon has not named the militias targeted in Syria, but the groups Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada have been responsible for many of the attacks against American forces in the region over the past few years.
Separately, Iran-backed Houthi rebels operating in Yemen have launched rocket attacks against Israel in recent weeks. Houthi rebels last week also shot down a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone operating in international airspace off the coast of Yemen.
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