update deskMiddle East

Dozens of US troops injured in attacks in Iraq, Syria

Fifty-nine U.S. troops have been injured across 56 attacks since Oct. 17.

A convoy of U.S. soldiers in Syria in December 2018. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
A convoy of U.S. soldiers in Syria in December 2018. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Fifty-nine U.S. troops have been injured in 56 attacks on American assets in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17, the Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday.

Twenty-seven of those suffered traumatic brain injuries, Fox News reported.

On Sunday, the United States struck two Iran-linked sites in Syria in response to the attacks on American forces, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

It was the third time in as many weeks that the U.S. military had targeted locations in Syria it said were tied to Iran, whose terror proxies have upped their attacks on American forces in the Middle East since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7.

“The President [Joe Biden] has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today’s action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests,” according to a statement by Austin on Sunday.

Tuesday’s Fox News report cited Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh as saying: “I think we’ve been pretty clear in our message when it comes to deterrence, and we haven’t seen this conflict widen out.”

Last Wednesday night, separate U.S. and Israeli airstrikes in Syria targeted Iranian proxies.

A Pentagon official told reporters that U.S. aircraft had struck a weapons warehouse belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in eastern Syria. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Israel had struck Hezbollah facilities near Damascus, as well as a Syrian air defense site. Israeli officials did not confirm the attacks.

On Oct. 27, Austin announced that U.S. military forces had struck two facilities in eastern Syria.

At the time, the U.S. defense chief stressed that Washington “does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must stop.”

He went on to state that “Iran wants to hide its hand and deny its role in these attacks against our forces. We will not let them. If attacks by Iran’s proxies against U.S. forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people.”

Austin emphasized that the strikes in Syria were not connected to Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“These narrowly tailored strikes in self-defense were intended solely to protect and defend U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria. They are separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and do not constitute a shift in our approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict,” said Austin.

“We continue to urge all state and non-state entities not to take action that would escalate into a broader regional conflict,” he said.

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