On Thursday evening, the Pentagon made a significant announcement, confirming the execution of “self-defense” strikes sanctioned by President Biden. The targets were Iranian facilities believed to be utilized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its allied militias in Syria. This operation marks a pivotal moment, as it is a direct response to the recent series of attacks aimed at U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East.
SecDef Austin on retaliatory strikes carried out in Syria moments ago:— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) October 27, 2023
"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.
Townhall, the original source of this news story, had previously reported that over the course of the last week, U.S. forces in the Middle East found themselves under attack on numerous occasions. These incidents, involving drone and rocket attacks, resulted in injuries to numerous American personnel and tragically led to the death of a contractor. The contractor succumbed to a heart attack amidst the chaos of seeking shelter during one of these attacks.
Richard Goldberg, holding the position of Senior Advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), took to X, a social media platform formerly known as Twitter, to voice his opinions on the matter. Goldberg labeled the U.S. strikes on IRGC targets in Syria as “[l]ong overdue.” However, he underscored the importance of withholding judgment until more details about the strike’s impact and the targets hit were made available.
Long overdue & likely lowest possible retaliation threshold. More details to come but tracks with past responses (the few over 2.5 years). Will be interested to know if IRGC hit or just Arab militias. Any casualties or just empty building. Need details. But *a* response finally.— Richard Goldberg (@rich_goldberg) October 27, 2023
As of this moment, any assessments of the damage caused by the U.S. strikes remain confidential and unreleased to the public. Goldberg, in his social media post, emphasized the need for clarity on whether the U.S. delayed the strikes to ensure the safety of any IRGC personnel potentially present at the targets. This aspect is crucial, as it speaks volumes about the U.S.’ strategic and operational decisions during the strike.
Khamenei is likely not impressed. Will be very curious to hear more on why there was a long delay between POTUS approval and strike. Did they wait for the IRGC personnel to clear out before hitting it? Important question. Remember a contractor is dead and 20+ troops injured.— Richard Goldberg (@rich_goldberg) October 27, 2023
Furthermore, Goldberg drew attention to the pattern of minimal retaliation that has characterized the Biden administration’s response to similar situations in the past. He pointed out that many people were setting their expectations low, eagerly awaiting any form of retaliation from the U.S. after a week of suspense. He urged a shift in perspective, suggesting that the situation should be assessed from Tehran’s standpoint, rather than Washington’s.
Of course, it has everything to do with Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraqi militias, Houthis, Iran itself. This is Iran’s war. We are hyping the lowest possible retaliation after a week of waiting. Let’s look at the chess board from Tehran, not Washington. https://t.co/4PNZ5u5o6B— Richard Goldberg (@rich_goldberg) October 27, 2023
In the official statement released by the Biden administration regarding the strikes, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin took a firm stance. He acknowledged Iran’s efforts to obscure its involvement in the attacks on U.S. forces, asserting that the U.S. would not be deceived. “Iran wants to hide its hand and deny its role in these attacks against our forces,” Sec. Austin stated, adding, “We will not let them.”
Sec. Austin further emphasized that the U.S. is prepared to take additional measures to safeguard American lives if Iran’s proxy forces persist in their aggression. This statement, however, raises further questions, as Goldberg pointed out. He questioned why this decisive stance had not been consistently applied to other incidents involving Iran-backed groups.
What’s notable is that this statement could be applied elsewhere. Like the October 7th massacre. Or Hezbollah in the north. Or Houthi cruise missiles. The 3-week attempt to have a Hamas policy and a separate but contradictory Iran policy is slowly collapsing. As it should. https://t.co/Xyl2S833KY— Richard Goldberg (@rich_goldberg) October 27, 2023
In conclusion, while the aftermath and total impact of the U.S. strikes on IRGC facilities in Syria are still to be fully understood, Goldberg’s insights highlight a crucial aspect: the need for a consistent and robust U.S. response to Iran-backed groups, regardless of their affiliations or geographic locations. The distinction between different Iran-backed entities is fading, and a uniform policy is crucial to effectively address the threats posed by these groups.
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