Tactical

Iran-backed attacks in Middle East continue after dozens of US strikes

The U.S. is still working on an assessment of infrastructure destroyed and people killed or injured after striking more than 100 targets across the Middle East over the weekend, but Iran-funded groups that have regularly attacked U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and Navy ships in the region’s waters have not relented in the aftermath.

Militias struck twice in Syria, once on Saturday at Mission Support Site Euphrates and on Sunday near Mission Support Site Green Village, the Pentagon confirmed on Monday, in addition to a Houthi missile fired within hours of U.S.-U.K. strikes on their sites in Yemen.

“So they have capability,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters. “It would not be surprising to anyone if they attempt to conduct attacks in the future, but when they do, again, we’ll take appropriate action, as we have been doing.”

The Pentagon on Monday was still awaiting analysis on just how much the U.S. strikes on Iraq and joint U.S.-U.K. strikes on Yemen degraded these groups’ abilities to keep attacking.

In total, the U.S. hit 85 targets at seven sites in Iraq and Syria on Friday, followed by a joint operation on Saturday that hit 36 Houthi targets at 13 sites in Yemen.

“I think it is fair to conclude that there are likely were casualties associated with these strikes,” Ryder said.

In a statement Friday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the strikes were just the first phase of retaliation for a Jan. 28 attack in Jordan that killed three U.S. soldiers.

It was the first deadly attack out of roughly 170 that started coming almost back-to-back in mid-October, after the U.S. moved assets and troops to the Middle East in an attempt to deter a broader conflict erupting in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

At the same time, Yemen’s Houthi movement has been firing missiles and drones into the Red Sea, targeting commercial shipping vessels and coming within shooting distance of U.S. Navy ships.

The Pentagon has insisted that the barrage of attacks, and the U.S.’s many retaliatory strikes, don’t amount to war.

“But to be clear, our goal is not to ― okay, game on, let’s just do this and go, you know, full scale war against Iranian proxy groups in Iraq and Syria,” Ryder said. “That’s not what we’re there for.”

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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