“Today, at the direction of President Joe Biden, US military forces launched strikes on two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iranian-backed groups,” Lloyd Austin said in a statement.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the groups it supports use these facilities, according to the Pentagon.
US airstrikes hit an arms and ammunition depot used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. A US official said it was unclear whether Iranian citizens were killed in the attack.
Two warplanes carried out the attacks at around 04:30 on Friday morning near the Syrian town of Albukamal on the border with Iraq.
“These precision self-defense strikes are a response to a series of ongoing and largely unsuccessful attacks against American personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militias that began on October 17,” Austin says.
Reuters quoted US authorities as saying that the attacks were not coordinated with Israel.
Austin says the United States does not seek conflict and has no intention or desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against US forces are unacceptable and must stop.
He warned that the United States would take further steps if the attacks continued.
Over the past week, American soldiers have been attacked at least a dozen times in Iraq and four times in Syria by groups linked to Iran in the Middle East, the United States reported earlier Thursday.
According to Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder, 21 Americans were injured in two attacks on the Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq and Al-Tanf in Syria.
All members of the US forces who were injured in the attacks suffered minor injuries and have now returned to duty. In addition to the soldiers, a defense contract civilian died of a heart attack while seeking cover from a possible drone strike.
The latest series of attacks against the United States began after a deadly explosion at a hospital in Gaza City, sparking demonstrations in many parts of the Islamic State.
Israel has bombarded the Gaza Strip with air strikes since Hamas attacked the country on October 7, but the Israelis deny that they were behind the explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital, which US intelligence also believes.
Hamas-controlled Palestinian health authorities in Gaza said on Thursday that 7,028 people had been killed so far in the war. These numbers have not been confirmed from other sources, but the United Nations regularly publishes numbers issued by health authorities.
Biden said on Wednesday that he did not believe the death toll reported in the Gaza Strip.
In recent weeks, the United States has sent an additional 900 troops to the Middle East.
In addition, the Americans sent warships and fighter planes. The purpose is to deter Iran and Iranian-backed groups.
Previously, the Americans deployed about 2,500 soldiers in Iraq and 900 soldiers in Syria to help work to contain the extremist Islamic group ISIS.
One fear is that the war between Israel and Hamas will spill over into the rest of the region and turn American soldiers in isolated bases into targets.
Austin says that the United States does not want the war between Hamas, which is supported by Iran, and Israel to turn into a major war in the region. But he stresses that the United States will not hesitate to carry out more attacks if Iranian-backed groups continue their attacks
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”