Last Friday, after the direction given out on behalf of President Joe Biden, the American Ministry of Defense gave the command to carry out an airstrike towards pro-Iranian forces in Syria. As of now, according to the Italian press agency Ansa, these attacks have killed at least 19 Syrians; based on what was reported by the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, which is based in the United Kingdom, 11 of the strike’s victims were civilians, 3 were Syrian soldiers, and 16 were pro-Iranian soldiers.
“The airstrikes were conducted in response to today’s attack,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III declared in a Defense press release Thursday, referring to the death of an American contractor and the injury of some troops after a “kamikaze” Iranian drone hit an American base camp situated in northeastern Syria, “as well as a series of recent attacks against coalition forces in Syria by groups affiliated with the I.R.G.C. [Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps].” (Contractors are priceless help in terms of logistical support.) Austin moreover affirmed the importance of protecting American troops and personnel, while making Iran accountable for its actions.
Predictably, there was an immediate backfire after the American attack. 10 raids were launched toward the Americans and the coalition.
According to Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, the strikes targeted three main areas: first, a weapons depot in the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor; secondly, the Mayadeen desert; and finally, the town of Bukamal. For now, even if the location of airstrikes has been confirmed by the American government, there is still no confirmation on the number of casualties.
The probable reason why the American government has decided not to retire its 900 troops from Syria is the presence of pro-Iranian forces – including the I.R.G.C., which has been labeled a terrorist group. Time has allowed these forces to further develop their drones and find new armaments to support their cause. For this reason, the issue is still quite salient for the American government, which is nevertheless currently concentrated on other matters, such as the Ukrainian war. Striking back is never the right solution, but we cannot simply endure attacks that go unpunished, either. While the situation currently remains at a stall, a new strategy should be adopted, or at least considered.
The situation is still in development, and it is unknown how circumstances will evolve. In the short term, however, we may see more tit-for-tat airstrikes, as the U.S. is unlikely to suffer return fire if the Iranian forces decide to strike back. The risk of escalation is real, and, with the development of Iranian strength in the region, a new conflict may be among these airstrikes’ long-term effects.
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