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US launches another wave of retaliatory airstrikes at Iran-backed groups in Syria

Several militant groups have vowed to retaliate against the US for backing Israel in the war against Hamas, which has killed thousands of civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip. Last week, nine militants were killed in a similar airstrike in eastern Syria used by Iran-affiliated groups.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Gaza Updated on: November 13, 2023 11:12 IST
The US continues to retaliate against a growing number of
Image Source : AP/FILE The US continues to retaliate against a growing number of attacks against American troops.

The United States military on Sunday conducted another wave of airstrikes at two locations targeting Iran-backed groups in eastern Syria, in retaliation for attacks on US troops. The airstrikes struck a training location and a safe house, according to the Pentagon.

In a statement, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the strikes targeting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups were conducted near the cities of Abu Kamal and Mayadin. This marked the third time in over two weeks that the US has retaliated against Iran-backed militants in Iraq and Syria.

"The President has no higher priority than the safety of US personnel, and he directed today's action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests," said Austin in the statement.

The militant groups in Iraq, several of them operating under the umbrella of the Islamic Resistance, have carried out nearly 50 attacks since October 17 on bases housing US personnel in Iraq and Syria. This came when a powerful explosion at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds and triggered widespread protests in Muslim countries amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Many groups have vowed retaliation against the US for backing Israel in the war against Hamas since the Jewish state started its relentless bombardment of the besieged Strip. At least 56 US personnel have been injured in the attacks in Syria and Iraq, although all of them have returned to duty, according to the Pentagon.

Last week, at least nine militants were killed when the US conducted a "self-defence strike" on a facility in eastern Syria used by Iran-affiliated groups.

Israel-Hamas war

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was bringing its “full force” with the aim of ending Hamas’ 16-year rule in Gaza as residents reported heavy airstrikes and shelling, including around Shifa Hospital. The hospital’s last generator ran out of fuel on Saturday, leading to the deaths of three premature babies and four other patients, according to the Health Ministry. It said another 36 babies are at risk of dying.

Israel’s military asserted it placed 300 liters (79 gallons) of fuel near Shifa overnight for an emergency generator powering incubators for premature babies and coordinated the delivery with hospital officials. However, the military said Hamas prevented the hospital from receiving the fuel.

More than 11,000 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and minors, have been killed since the war began, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. About 2,700 people have been reported missing. The US has pushed for temporary pauses that would allow for wider distribution of badly needed aid to civilians in the territory, where conditions are increasingly dire. But Israel has only agreed to brief daily periods during which civilians can flee ground combat in northern Gaza and head south on foot along two main roads.

At least 1,400 people have been killed on the Israeli side, mostly civilians killed in the initial Hamas attack. At least 46 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza since the ground offensive began.

A 57-nation gathering of Muslim and Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia called in their communique for an end to the war in Gaza and the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid. They also called on the International Court of Justice, a UN organ, to open an investigation into Israel's attacks, saying the war “cannot be called self-defence and cannot be justified under any means.”

(with inputs from agencies)

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