U.S. Retaliation Against Iranian Proxies in Syria

On August 24, U.S. airstrikes targeted Iranian-backed groups in Syria that had attacked American troops there on August 15. Later that day, a second round of Iran-backed attacks injured three American service members and U.S. counterstrikes killed four Iranian-backed militants. American troops reportedly conducted a third round of strikes in Syria on August 25, marking the most extensive exchange of fire between U.S. and Iranian-backed groups in Syria since President Biden took office. The U.S. responses have been too limited and, at least initially, avoided targeting militants, even as the Iranian-backed groups sought to kill American troops. In light of Tehran’s use of its proxies’ attacks as leverage against Washington, and given that previous limited U.S. retaliatory strikes failed to significantly degrade or deter further Iranian regional or nuclear aggression, the Biden administration urgently must adopt a much more robust policy of consistent and comprehensive military pressure that, like Israeli operations, imposes direct costs on Iran and not just on its proxies.

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Ari Cicurel – Senior Policy Analyst