Today, at the order of Vice President Biden, United States military forces carried out self-defense strikes against two facilities in eastern Syria that were being utilized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other affiliated entities. These targeted strikes in self-defense are a response to a series of ongoing attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that started on October 17. The vast majority of these attacks have been unsuccessful. One United States citizen contractor passed away as a consequence of a cardiac episode while sheltering in place as a direct result of these strikes; 21 United States personnel members suffered from minor injuries, but all of them have subsequently returned to duty. The safety of U.S. troops is the President’s highest concern, and he directed the action taken today to make it very clear that the United States will not tolerate actions of this nature and will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests. In other words, the President’s top priority is the protection of U.S. personnel.

The United States does not seek conflict and has no intention or desire to engage in further hostilities; but, these Iranian-backed attacks against United States soldiers are intolerable and must cease. The United States does not seek conflict and has no intention nor desire to engage in further hostilities. Iran is trying to cover its tracks and deny any involvement in the strikes that have been carried out against our personnel. They will not be allowed to do it. If the attacks against U.S. personnel carried out by Iran’s proxies continue, we will not hesitate to take any more steps that are required to ensure the safety of our people.

These highly targeted, defensive actions in self-defense were carried out with the sole intention of shielding and defending American forces stationed in Iraq and Syria. They are different and distinct from the struggle that is currently continuing between Israel and Hamas, and they do not imply a shift in our attitude to the conflict that is being fought between Israel and Hamas. We are continuing to urge all state and non-state organisations, including private organisations, to refrain from taking any actions that may potentially spiral into a larger regional conflict.