Two US F-15 fighter jets conducted an airstrike on a weapons storage facility in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups.
The Pentagon announced the strike as a response to a series of attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by IRGC-Quds Force affiliates.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the President has no higher priority than the safety of US personnel and directed the action to make clear that the US will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests. The US is fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its people and facilities and urges against any escalation.
A senior military official stated that the facility, located in Maysalun, Syria, is believed to have housed weapons used in many of the airstrikes against US forces in the region.
The US strike is the second time the US has hit facilities used by Iranian-backed groups in response to nearly daily attacks by Iranian proxies on US forces in Iraq and Syria. US and coalition forces have been targeted at least 41 times since October 17 by one-way attack drones or rocket attacks, the latest being a multi-rocket attack on US and coalition forces at Shaddadi, Syria.
The US strike also aimed to convey a clear message to Iran that it would be held accountable for the attacks on US forces through its proxies. The US has taken additional measures to communicate directly with Iran, Iran-aligned groups in Iraq, Lebanon, and regional partners, aiming to clarify that their military actions do not signal a change in their approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict. The US has sent significant firepower to the Middle East since October 7, as a deterrence to widening the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and in support of forces in the region.
The strike comes the same day that an unmanned US MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down off the coast of Yemen by Iran-backed Houthi forces. Iran-backed groups are planning to increase its attacks on US forces in the Middle East as Iran seeks to take advantage of backlash in the region to US support of Israel in the wake of Hamas’ brutal attack on October 7.
The US has fortified its bases in the region with additional Patriot batteries and increased defensive counter air-patrols to further deter attacks and defend its forces.