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US strikes Iranian targets in Syria

Two facilities of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were hit by the US military on Thursday (US local time) in eastern Syria, according to AniNews.

The strikes were carried out in self-defence, the US military said. Joe Biden ordered the strikes in response to a series of ongoing and largely unsuccessful attacks on US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that began on 17 October.

As a result of these attacks one US citizen-contractor died of a heart attack while sheltering in place; 21 US service members suffered minor injuries, but all of those wounded have since all returned to active duty.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday’s action shows that President Biden has no higher priority than the safety of US personnel. Austin said the US would not tolerate “attacks like this and will defend itself, its personnel and its interests.”He said:

The US does not seek conflicts and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against US forces are unacceptable and must stop. Iran warns to hide its hand and deny its role in these attacks against our forces. We will not let them. If attacks by Iran’s proxies against US forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people.

Austin said that “the highly specialised self-defence strikes were aimed solely at protecting US personnel in Iraq and Syria. They are separate from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas and do not represent a change in our approach to this conflict. We continue to urge all state and non-state entities not to take actions that could escalate into a broader regional conflict.”

Lloyd Austin spoke just after the US Defence Department said “Iranian-backed militia groups” had attacked US and allied forces in Iraq and Syria at least 16 times this month.

According to Al Jazeera, attacks on US troops in the region have increased since the war between Israel and Hamas began. Joe Biden recently said he had warned Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei against bombing US troops in the Middle East. He said:

My warning to the Ayatollah was that if they continue to move against those troops, we will respond, and he should be prepared.

Biden told reporters adding it has “nothing to do with Israel.”

Washington and Tehran have no formal diplomatic relations, and Biden did not say how the message was conveyed. Mohammad Jamshidi, an aide to Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi, issued a statement:

“The US messages were neither directed to the leader of the Islamic Revolution nor were they anything but requests from the Iranian side. If Biden thinks he has warned Iran, he should ask his team to show him the text of the messages.”

US officials are concerned about the possibility of the fighting between Israel and Hamas escalating into a wider regional conflict.

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