As the war between Israel and Hamas rages on in the Middle East, the Pentagon has confirmed four additional attacks on American troops stationed in the region.
Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said Thursday that U.S. military bases in the Middle East have now been attacked 46 times since Oct. 17, escalating tensions in a region that's already on the brink of the Israel-Hamas war spilling into neighboring countries. So far, more than 50 American troops have been hurt in the attacks, though most are minor, according to the Pentagon.
"If these attacks continue against our personnel, we won’t hesitate at a time and place of our choosing to respond again,” Singh said during a press conference.
The latest attacks against American soldiers come after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. launched two F-15 fighter jets to conduct a "self-defense strike" on an weapons storage facility in eastern Syria that's believed to be used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
"This precision self-defense strike is a response to a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by IRGC-Quds Force affiliates," Austin said in a statement. "The President has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today's action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests."
The U.S. has increased its presence in the Middle East following the breakout of the Israel-Hamas war, often bombing sites in Syria and Iraq that it believes are being used by Iran and related militant groups.
Iran's role in the clearly well-coordinated Hamas terrorist attack on Israel is the subject of much debate. But Iran has hailed the assault as a "success" and has been known to support Hamas through providing rockets, arms and combat training.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, insists that the U.S. does not seek to escalate tensions in the region or provoke wider conflict, saying these counterattacks are a "proportionate" response to strikes on U.S. bases.
"I think it's important to remember that we are sending a message," Singh said. "I think the messages have been received."
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