U.S. forces carried out airstrikes in Syria against groups tied to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, U.S. Central Command said, a move that comes as Washington and Tehran weigh a new nuclear agreement.
The strikes at Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria were “intended to defend and protect U.S. forces from attacks like the ones on Aug. 15 against U.S. personnel by Iran-backed groups,” Colonel Joe Buccino, a spokesman for Centcom, said in a statement sent late Tuesday.
An aerial assault occurred Aug. 15 near the Al-Tanf garrison, an American military base near a key border crossing in Syria, Centcom said in a previous statement. There were no casualties at that time. The airstrikes on Tuesday, according to Buccino, “targeted infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated” with the Guard Corps.
“The United States took proportionate, deliberate action intended to limit the risk of escalation and minimize the risk of casualties,” Buccino said, adding that President Joe Biden “gave the direction” for the strikes.
The airstrikes occurred as the Biden administration is sending signals that it will remain tough on Iran even as it weighs a return to the nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic that President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met on Tuesday with his Israeli counterpart, Eyal Hulata, and reiterated the Biden administration’s “commitment to ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon,” according to a White House statement.
The original agreement placed limits on Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of related economic sanctions. Republicans and some Democrats oppose reviving it.
Earlier Tuesday, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee demanded that Congress be given a chance to review any agreement to revive the accord, as the U.S. prepares its position on what a top European Union official called Iran’s “reasonable response” to the bloc’s latest proposal.
“Congress must review any agreement that is reached,” Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said in a letter to Biden.
In Iran, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that a Guard Corps general had been killed in Syria on Monday. Iran has frequently blamed Israeli attacks for the killing of its military personnel in Syria, a battleground for proxy wars in the region.