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US warplanes carried out a strike on an Iran-linked weapons storage facility in jap Syria on Wednesday in response to assaults in opposition to American personnel, US Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin mentioned.

It’s the second time in roughly two weeks that america has focused a location in Syria it mentioned was tied to Iran, which helps an array of armed teams that Washington blames for a spike in assaults on its forces within the Center East.

The USA is striving to discourage Iran and its proxies from turning the Israel-Hamas combating right into a regional warfare, however the repeated assaults and strikes in response danger a battle between Washington and Tehran.

“US navy forces performed a self-defense strike on a facility in jap Syria utilized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated teams. This strike was performed by two US F-15s in opposition to a weapons storage facility,” Austin mentioned in a press release.

“This precision self-defense strike is a response to a sequence of assaults in opposition to US personnel in Iraq and Syria by IRGC-Quds Drive associates,” Austin mentioned, including that america “is totally ready to take additional vital measures to guard our individuals and our amenities.”

‘Cease Attacking Us’

A senior US protection official mentioned the strike was being mixed “with very clear messaging by way of a number of channels. And the message is, to Iranian senior leaders, ‘We would like you to direct your proxies and militia teams to cease attacking us.’”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights warfare monitor mentioned the Wednesday strike killed 9 individuals affiliated with Iran-backed teams.

A senior American navy official mentioned the positioning in Deir Ezzor province had been below surveillance so america may choose a time to hold out the strike with “a minimal variety of casualties,” however that it could have induced some nonetheless.

“We had been monitoring only a couple (individuals) max that we don’t have any affirmation of simply previous to the strike,” the official mentioned.

The US navy additionally hit two amenities in Syria on October 26 that it mentioned had been utilized by the IRGC and affiliated teams, however assessed that these strikes didn’t trigger casualties.

Like the latest strike, Washington mentioned the sooner two had been in response to assaults on US personnel, who’ve been focused greater than 40 occasions with rockets and drones since October 17.

The surge in assaults on US troops is linked to the warfare between Israel and Hamas, which started when the militant group carried out a shock cross-border assault from Gaza on October 7 that Israeli officers say killed greater than 1,400 individuals.

Israel’s navy responded with a relentless air, land, and naval assault on Gaza that the territory’s well being ministry mentioned has left greater than 10,500 individuals lifeless.

US troopers on their approach to an oil manufacturing facility in Syria. Photograph: Military Spc. Jensen Guillory/US Military

MQ-9 Drone Shot Down

There are roughly 2,500 American troops in Iraq and a few 900 in Syria as a part of efforts to forestall a resurgence of the Islamic State group.

The jihadists as soon as held vital territory in each international locations however had been pushed again by native floor forces supported by worldwide air strikes in a bloody multi-year battle.

In one other incident linked to the Israel-Hamas warfare, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen mentioned Wednesday that they shot down an American drone.

“Our air defenses had been in a position to down an American MQ-9 whereas it was finishing up hostile surveillance and espionage actions in Yemeni territorial waters as a part of American navy help” for Israel, the rebels mentioned in a press release.

Senior officers from america – which rushed navy help to Israel and likewise bolstered American forces within the area after the October 7 assault – have confirmed that one of many nation’s drones was downed.

The Houthis are against authorities forces in Yemen and are additionally a part of the “axis of resistance” of teams arrayed in opposition to Israel.

They’ve claimed duty for a number of drone and missile assaults in opposition to Israel throughout its warfare with Hamas, and the US Navy intercepted missiles fired by the rebels final month.

A sequence of MQ-9 drones – which may fly greater than 1,100 miles (1,700 kilometers) at altitudes of as much as 50,000 toes (15,000 meters) and can be utilized for each surveillance and strikes – have been misplaced or broken lately, together with one america assessed was downed by the Houthis in 2019.