US still faces threats from Iran-backed forces despite strikes

U.S. military action has so far failed to halt attacks by Iran-backed groups on Washington's forces in the Middle East and shipping in the Red Sea, with the threats persisting despite recent heavy air strikes.

The attacks by militants — which the armed groups that claim them say are driven by the Israel-Hamas war — have been launched from or hit four different countries, posing a multi-front challenge for the United States, which aims to curb the unrest while avoiding direct conflict with Iran.

The U.S. hit dozens of Iran-linked targets in Iraq and Syria last week in response to a drone attack that killed three American soldiers in neighboring Jordan, and conducted joint strikes with Britain against Yemeni rebels over the weekend.

But American forces were subsequently targeted in Syria, while the rebels have launched new attacks on merchant vessels.

"I suspect we will have some level of violence persisting for a while. Iran and the groups it supports don't want to announce they've given in," said Jon Alterman, the director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"At the same time, I think the number and size of attacks will diminish. This is partly because the U.S. strikes are reducing their capability, and partly because they want to reduce their losses," he said.

 'Appropriate action' 

Asked Monday if the Pentagon was planning for a long campaign in Iraq and Syria, spokesman Major General Pat Ryder said that "as I understand it, that's not the case."

Questioned on whether strikes would continue as long as attacks on U.S. troops persist, Ryder said: "We're going to take whatever necessary actions are required to protect our forces."


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