CENTCOM confirmed U.S. airstrikes in Deir al-Zor “intended to defend and protect U.S. forces from attacks like the ones on August 15 against U.S. personnel by Iran-backed groups. The U.S. strikes targeted infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps”. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson called the operation “a violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, and asserted: “The sites targeted had no links to the Islamic Republic”. A senior Pentagon official said “we believe we have Iran dead to rights on attribution” regarding the 15 August attacks, adding: “Whether the JCPOA is reborn or not, it actually has nothing to do without willingness and resolve to defend ourselves. And I think the strike… was a pretty clear communication to the Iranians, that these things are on different tracks”. On 24 August CENTCOM announced that “U.S. forces responded… to rocket attacks at two sites in Syria” that injured three U.S. service members, with “initial assessments… that two or three suspected Iran-backed militants conducting one of the attacks were killed”. The following day it reported that operations with helicopters and artillery against “Iran affiliated militants… result[ed] in four enemy fighters killed and seven enemy rocket launchers destroyed”.
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