U.S. launches second strike on Iranian assets in Syria

The U.S. military launched its second airstrike in Syria in an attempt to pressure Iran to halt its militia proxies’ attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria. The Iran-backed militias have attacks U.S. bases 41 times since October 17 in response to U.S. support for Israel in its war against Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza.

Two U.S. Air Force F-15 Strike Eagles “carried out airstrikes on IRGC and Iranian proxy facility in [Northeast] Syria in response to 41 attacks on U.S. bases since Oct 17, Jennifer Griffin from Fox News reported today.

The target of the U.S. airstrike “was a weapons storage facility.” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned that “the U.S. military will take further action if attacks continue.”

Austin issued a similar statement on Oct. 27, when the U.S. military attacked weapons and ammunition depots in Syria that are used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and its militia proxies. The U.S. military didn’t respond until the militias launched 19 attacks on bases in Iraq and Syria.

The Oct. 17 strikes, which Austin described as “narrowly-tailored” were intended to deter Iran and its militias from further attacking U.S. bases. However, Austin softened the message of deterrence by stating that “The United States does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities …”

Austin also described the U.S. strikes as “separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas …” The Iran-backed militias disagree, and have said that their attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria are in support of Hamas and the Palestinians in Gaza.

The Biden administration’s Oct. 27 attempt to deter Iran and its proxies from further strikes on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria has failed, as the militias launched an additional 21 attacks since that date. The Biden administration is attempting to keep the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza from ballooning into a wider war. Without seriously escalating U.S. attacks, which comes with its own risks, such as some of the smaller U.S. bases coming under significant fire or even being overrun, it is unlikely that U.S. strikes at the current level will deter Iran in the future.

Joe Truzman is a research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian militant groups and Hezbollah. Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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