US hits Iranian proxy forces in Syria with airstrikes, in retaliation for attacks on its troops

27 October 2023, 05:29 | Updated: 27 October 2023, 06:49

The US has hit Iran-backed forces in Syria
The US has hit Iran-backed forces in Syria. Picture: US Department of Defence/Getty

By Kit Heren

The US has hit two locations in Syria linked to the Iranian military after its troops suffered several attacks in recent days.

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The strikes, which took place at around 1.30am UK time (4.30am local time) targeted weapons and ammunition storage facilities used by Iranian forces, US officials said.

The weapons stores were in Abu Kamal, a town on the border with Iraq. The precision strikes were carried out by F-16 fighter jets.

It is unclear if anyone was killed or wounded in the attacks.

US bases and personnel in the region have come under fire from drones and missiles in a series of attacks that began at the start of last week.

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US F16 dropped the bombs
US F16 dropped the bombs. Picture: Getty

The Pentagon wants to deter future Iranian-backed attackers from doing anything, with tensions in the region inflamed because of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

US military bosses said at least 16 attacks on staff in bases in Iraq and Syria since October 17.

Two of those attacks resulted in 21 injuries.

Defence secretary Lloyd Austin said the "precision self-defence strikes are 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".

Mr Austin said that Joe Biden authorised the attacks "to make clear that the United States will not tolerate such attacks and will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests".

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He claimed that the strikes had nothing to do with Israel and its conflict with Hamas, adding that the US does not want a wider regional war.

The US has been warning that it may take retaliatory action for the strikes, with Air Force brigadier general Pat Ryder saying that any response would be "at the time and place of our choosing".

He also 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".

The attacks on US troops began after the deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital that Israel, the US, the UK and others say was a missile mis-fired from within Gaza.

Hamas said it was an Israeli airstrike, and the incident triggered protests in some Muslim-majority countries.