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U.S. strikes Iran-linked groups in Syria amid increase in attacks on U.S. troops

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin late Thursday said the U.S. military has conducted airstrikes in Syria, hitting two facilities used by Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin late Thursday said the U.S. military has conducted airstrikes in Syria, hitting two facilities used by Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The United States conducted air strikes on two facilities used by Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Crops and its affiliates in Syria, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said late Thursday, as the Biden administration retaliates against attacks targeting U.S. soldiers in the region.

The strikes were ordered by President Joe Biden as the stability of the Middle East has been shaken by Israel's ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza. Amid the conflict, the president's administration has repeatedly warned third actors against trying to take advantage of the situation as it seeks to prevent the war from expanding.

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In the last 10 days, U.S. service members and coalition forces have been attacked at least 12 times in Iraq and four times in Syria via drones and rockets, resulting in the death of a contractor who suffered cardiac arrest while sheltering in place and 21 U.S. personnel suffering minor injuries, the Pentagon said.

Austin described the Thursday strikes as "precision" and in "self-defense" with the intent to make clear to those who wish the United States harm that it will defend itself.

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"The United States does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must stop," he said in a statement.

"Iran wants 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 U.S. forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people."

Since the war between Israel and Hamas began on Oct. 7, the U.S. military has sought to reinforce its posture to bolster regional deterrence efforts that have included ordering several warships to the Middle East.

The U.S. military hit the targets in Syria after Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder announced during a press conference Thursday the deployment of some 900 additional U.S. troops to the region, including soldiers previously put on prepare-to-deploy status.

Ryder wouldn't get into specifics about the groups who have been targeting U.S. service members other than to say: "We know that these groups are affiliated with Iran."

Asked if the U.S. military was planning a response to the strikes, Ryder said he was not about to divulge what the U.S. military was considering.

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"I am not going to get into telegraphing whether we are or we aren't going to respond other than say we do so at a time and place of our choosing," he said.

"I Think we've been crystal clear that we maintain the inherent right of defending our troops and we will take all necessary measures to protect our forces and our interests overseas."

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