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

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Two US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducted “self-defense strikes” on two IRGC sites in Syria. The strikes were in retaliation for drone and missile attacks on US bases and personnel in the region. The airstrikes destroyed ammunition and weapon storage facilities near Abu Kamal. The US has stated that it does not seek conflict but will defend itself against attacks. Tensions in the region remain high, with the US ready to retaliate while trying to avoid provoking a wider conflict. The US has also deployed additional military assets to the area.

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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 facilities in 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 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.

Related Fun Fact: F-16 Fighting Falcons have been a staple of the U.S. Air Force fleet since their introduction in the 1970s. They are versatile multirole fighters capable of performing various missions, including air-to-air combat, ground attack, and reconnaissance.

Meanwhile, the build-up continues. There are three F-16C Fighting Falcon squadrons in the CENTCOM (Central Command) area of operation, with the latest one being the Vipers of the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 119th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, which 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.

 

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.

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