US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that Iran and its proxies have attacked US targets 83 times since President Joe Biden entered the White House in January 2021. Austin made his comments during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington.
“Iran and its proxy forces have launched 83 attacks against US troops in Iraq and Syria since President Joe Biden took office,” he explained. “In response, the US military has conducted four major operations against Iranian-backed groups.”
Austin’s remarks came days after the Pentagon reported that an American contractor was killed and five soldiers and a contractor were wounded in an “Iranian-origin” strike against a coalition base in Hasakah, northeastern Syria.
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Nineteen fighters, most of them from pro-Iranian groups, were killed by US airstrikes in eastern Syria overnight last Thursday in response to the drone strike that killed the American contractor. Washington insisted that it did not want escalation with Tehran.
Last Friday night, pro-Iranian fighters targeted bases where US forces are present, and the latter responded by carrying out new air strikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reported that only material damage.
Austin said President Biden directed him to authorize US military airstrikes in Syria targeting infrastructure associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“The United States does not – not, I emphasize – seek a conflict with Iran,” said Biden during a visit to Ottawa last Friday, “but be prepared for us to act strongly to protect our people.”
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