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U.S. F-16s Carry Out Air Strikes On Iran-Linked Targets In Syria

F-16s strike Syria
Two U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft fly over the U.S. Air Force Central Command area of responsibility (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride)

Two F-16s struck IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) sites in Syria.

Early in the morning on Oct. 27, 2023, two U.S. F-16 combat aircraft conducted what the Pentagon called “self-defense strikes” on two IRGC facilitiesin eastern Syria, in retaliation for the series of drone and missile attacks against U.S. bases and personnel in the region launched on Oct. 17 – 19.

According to the details released in the aftermath of the air strikes, the two aircraft destroyed ammunition and weapon storage facilities near Abu Kamal, not far from the border with Iraq. 

Here’s the statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III:

Today, at President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces conducted self-defense strikes on two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups. These precision self-defense strikes are a response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that began on October 17. As a result of these attacks, one U.S. citizen contractor died from a cardiac incident while sheltering in place; 21 U.S. personnel suffered from minor injuries, but all have since returned to duty. 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 not tolerate such attacks and will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests.

The United States does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities, but these Iranian-backed attacks against U.S. forces are unacceptable and must stop. Iran wants to hide its hand and deny its role in these attacks against our forces. We will not let them. If attacks by Iran’s proxies against U.S. forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people.

These narrowly tailored strikes in self-defense were intended solely to protect and defend U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria. They are separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and do not constitute a shift in our approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict. We continue to urge all state and non-state entities not to take action that would escalate into a broader regional conflict.

The situation is quite tense in the region, with the U.S. ready to retaliate for the attacks from the Iranian-backed groups as strongly as possible to deter future aggression, while also trying to avoid provoking a wider conflict.

Meanwhile, the build up continues. There are three F-16C Fighting Falcon squadrons in the CENTCOM (Central Command) area of operations with the latest one being the Vipers of the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 119th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, that arrived in the region on Oct. 24, 2023, to join two A-10C Thunderbolt II squadrons and one F-15E Strike Eagle squadron as well as several strategic airlift, aerial refueling, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms, already stationed there. The USS Gerald R. Ford is already operating in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, while the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is on its way to the same waters.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

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