US says retaliatory airstrikes in Syria killed eight Iran-backed fighters

Retaliatory U.S. airstrikes in Syria targeting Iran-backed militants last week killed eight fighters, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The fighters were killed when two U.S. F-15E fighter jets struck facilities operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) near Deir ez-Zor province in the eastern part of the country, according to Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.

Though they were associated with the IRGC, the militants killed were not Iranian, Ryder told reporters.

The U.S. strikes were in retaliation for a drone attack last week at a Syria base that housed American personnel. One U.S. contractor was killed and another was injured along with five service members.

Additional attacks on U.S. bases in Syria wounded another U.S. service member on Friday.

Ryder revealed that in addition to the injured service members, another six American troops were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) from the drone and rocket attacks.

President Biden has held off on another round of U.S. attacks in the tit-for-tat, a stance that lawmakers criticized earlier this week.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said Tuesday that the administration allowed Tehran to “have the last word” in the situation.

Ryder on Thursday defended the U.S. response.

“We took action, we struck two IRGC-Quds Force targets . . . and that was proportionate action and it was a deliberate action in order to again, send a message that U.S. forces will not be attacked with impunity,” Ryder said.

“We will continue to take appropriate action at a time and place of our choosing to ensure that our forces are protected.”

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