US attacked facilities in Syria linked to Iran: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin.

The US carried out airstrikes targeting two facilities linked to Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria on Thursday, according to a statement from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

This comes after a series of drone and rocket attacks against US forces in the region, the statement mentioned.

In the statement issued on Thursday night, he said the precision self-defence strikes carried out earlier in the day at President Joe Biden’s direction, were a “response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that began on October 17”.

“As a result of these attacks, one US citizen contractor died from a cardiac incident while sheltering in place; 21 US personnel suffered from minor injuries, but all have since returned to duty.

“The President has no higher priority than the safety of US personnel, and he directed today’s action to make clear that the US will not tolerate such attacks and will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests,” Austin was quoted as saying in the statement.

The Defense Secretary also reiterated that the “US does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks are unacceptable and must stop”.

“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 US forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people,” he warned.

He further said that the US strikes “were intended solely to protect and defend” American personnel in Iraq and Syria.

“They are separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and do not constitute a shift in our approach” to the raging war, Austin added.

As of Thursday, American forces had come under attack at least 12 separate times in Iraq and four separate times in Syria since October 17.

On Wednesday, Biden issued a strong warning to Iran about its affiliated groups attacking American forces in the region, CNN reported.

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