American troops were hit four times by Iranian-backed groups in the Middle East after a U.S. strike Wednesday on an Iranian facility in Syria.
Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said Thursday the U.S. has now been attacked 46 times since Oct. 17, following the breakout of a major war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.
That includes 24 attacks in Iraq and 22 in Syria, Singh said. The attacks have all involved explosive drones and rockets.
“If these attacks continue against our personnel, we won’t hesitate at a time and place of our choosing to respond again,” Singh told reporters at a briefing.
A total of 56 troops have been injured in the attacks, but most are minor injuries and every service member has since returned to duty, according to the Pentagon.
The latest attacks follow a U.S. airstrike Wednesday, which took out a major weapons facility in Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iranian-backed militants.
Singh said the strike inflicted significant damage on the storage facility.
“We were able to render that building pretty much non-usable,” she said.
The Wednesday strike came after the Houthis, who are also backed by Iran, shot down an MQ-9 Reaper drone off the coast of Yemen.
The U.S. has bolstered its presence in the Middle East following the Israel-Hamas war and also struck an Iranian-backed militant site in late October.
But the ongoing conflict has sparked fury on Capitol Hill, where Republicans have blamed the Biden administration for failing to stop the attacks.
“The message to terrorists must be clear: attacks on U.S. servicemembers, assets, and interests will not be tolerated,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “Hitting a storage facility should not be the final response by the U.S.”
Singh said the U.S. is carrying out “proportionate” responses but did not seek to escalate the conflict, while the primary mission was to ensure the Israel-Hamas war does not widen.
“We want to make sure we can contain this conflict to Israel and Hamas and we have not seen this conflict widen,” she said. “We are sending a message and I think the message has been received.”