Iran-backed militants launched at least 40 attacks on U.S. forces since Oct. 27.
The U.S. military on Wednesday said American warplanes struck a weapons storage facility in eastern Syria that officials said was being used by Iran-backed militants responsible for dozens of drone and rocket attacks against American troops in the region over the last three weeks.
"Today, at President Biden's direction, U.S. military forces conducted a self-defense strike on a facility in eastern Syria used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. "This strike was conducted by two U.S. F-15s against a weapons storage facility. This precision self-defense strike is a response to a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by IRGC-Quds Force affiliates. 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.
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"The United States is fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect our people and our facilities. We urge against any escalation. U.S. personnel will continue to conduct counter-ISIS missions in Iraq and Syria," he said.
"Between October 17 and November 7 ... U.S. forces have been attacked at least 40 times," Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said on Tuesday.
More than half of those attacks came after Oct. 27, when U.S. fighter jets struck two weapons and ammunition facilities in eastern Syria that officials said were used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated groups.
So far, 46 U.S. service members have been identified with signs of traumatic brain injuries, or minor wounds such as perforated eardrums, tinnitus and rolled ankles, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters Monday.
Most troops have returned to duty, but two were taken to U.S. hospital facilities in Landstuhl, Germany, for further examination and care, Ryder said.
In a statement following the Oct. 26 American counterstrikes, Austin blamed the Iranian regime for the attacks on U.S. forces, and vowed further action if the aggression were to continue.
"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," he said.
"Part of any good defense is a good offense, and to respond to the near constant attacks by Iranian-backed and directed groups in a manner that deters further attacks," said Mick Mulroy, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East and an ABC contributor.