The US has carried out two airstrikes against Iran-aligned groups in Syria, the official said

Nov 12 (Reuters) – The United States launched two airstrikes in Syria on Sunday against Iran and its allied groups, the Pentagon said, in the latest retaliation for a series of attacks against U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the strikes targeted a training facility near the town of Albu Kamal and a safe house near the town of Mayadeen. President Joe Biden ordered the strikes.

“The president has no higher priority than the safety of American personnel, and he led today’s action to make clear that the United States will protect itself, its personnel and its interests,” Austin said in a statement.

Local sources said the strikes targeted a camp run by pro-Iranian militants in an area west of Albu Kamal in Deir al-Zor province. The other strike was near the Iraqi border and near a bridge near the town of Mayadeen, a stronghold of pro-Iranian militants, the sources said.

The strike was the third since Oct. 26 as the United States tries to quell a wave of drone and rocket attacks against U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq sparked by the Israel-Hamas war.

Iran and its supporters say the United States is also responsible for Israel’s declared war on the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which it also supports.

US and coalition forces have been attacked at least 40 times in Iraq and Syria by Iran-backed forces in recent weeks. At least 45 US troops suffered traumatic brain injuries or minor injuries.

The U.S. has 900 troops in Syria and another 2,500 in neighboring Iraq, tasked with advising and assisting local forces trying to stem the resurgence of Islamic State, which seized large swaths of both countries in 2014 but has since been defeated.

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A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the attacks took place within the past few hours and said a U.S. review was underway to determine whether they killed or injured anyone.

The U.S. has 900 troops in Syria and another 2,500 in neighboring Iraq, tasked with advising and assisting local forces trying to stem the resurgence of Islamic State, which seized large swaths of both countries in 2014 but has since been defeated.

Concerns are growing that the Israel-Hamas conflict could spread across the Middle East, turning US troops at isolated bases into targets.

Since the Israel-Hamas conflict erupted on October 7, the US has sent warships and warplanes to the region, including two aircraft carriers, to deter Iran and Iran-backed groups. The number of troops deployed in the region is in the thousands.

Reuters reports that the US military is taking new measures to protect its Middle East forces in the event of attacks by suspected Iran-backed groups, leaving open the possibility of evacuating military families if necessary.

Officials say the measures include increasing U.S. military patrols, restricting access to base facilities and increasing intelligence gathering, including drone and other surveillance activities.

Reporting by Phil Stewart in Sol and Sulaiman al-Khalidi in Amman; Editing by Lisa Schumacher and Sandra Maler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Bill Stewart has reported from more than 60 countries, including Afghanistan, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and South Sudan. An award-winning Washington-based national security correspondent, Bill has appeared on NPR, PBS NewsHour, Fox News and other programs and moderated national security events, including the Reagan National Security Forum and the German Marshall Fund. He is the Edwin M. for Diplomatic Correspondence. Hood Award and Joe Galloway Award recipient.

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