The United States launched two strikes on Thursday against facilities associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in eastern Syria, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. For its part, Iran is preparing to carry out large-scale military maneuvers. It all happened amid an escalation of the conflict between Israel and Gaza.
Also, the bombings came after the Pentagon confirmed that at least one contractor had died of a heart attack while taking shelter and 21 US soldiers had suffered minor injuries in multiple attacks on drones by pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria since October 17th. The Pentagon did not provide further details about possible casualties from its strikes in eastern Syria on Thursday, which it described as precision bombing in self-defense. “If attacks by Iranian proxies against US forces continue, we will not hesitate to take the necessary measures to protect our people,” he warned. Previously, he also assured that he “has no intention or desire to engage in further fighting.”
“But these Iranian-backed attacks against US forces are unacceptable and must stop. Iran wants to hide its hand and deny its role in the attacks against our forces. No, we will let them,” he insisted. The secretary also clarified that these attacks had nothing to do with the US response to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. In addition, it asked all countries to refrain from taking steps that would contribute to the spread of war in other regions.
Iran is conducting large-scale military exercises
For its part, the Iranian Armed Forces will carry out large-scale military maneuvers with armored vehicles, artillery, missiles, helicopters, and drones in the coming days, amid tensions in the region due to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. The military exercises will last two days and will be held in the province of Isfahan, in the center of the country, the Tasnim agency, linked to the Revolutionary Guard, reported this Friday.
The Army reported that one of the maneuvers to be carried out would involve 200 helicopters but did not provide further details. Iran has welcomed the attack by Hamas, a group it supports, and has warned on several occasions of the risk of the conflict spreading if Israel does not stop bombing Gaza.
The Islamic Republic of Iran and Israel are bitter enemies; they pose an existential threat to each other, compete for regional hegemony, and continue a secret war with cyberattacks, assassinations, and sabotage. Tehran leads an informal anti-Israel coalition known as the Axis of Resistance, which also includes Hamas, the Lebanese group Hezbollah, and the Islamic Jihad, in addition to other Palestinian, Iraqi, and Yemeni militias.
Some of these militias have attacked US positions in recent days, to which the United States responded on Thursday with bombings against facilities linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Syria.