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A key and very evident theme out of the Red Sea is that the US has lost 'deterrence' and perhaps never had it to begin with. Despite over a dozen waves of large-scale Western coalition attacks on Houthi positions, the Yemeni Shia rebels are vowing more attacks on commercial shipping, as we've reported.
It is the same with Iran-aligned groups in Syria and Iraq, even after the Pentagon on Friday hit 85 targets with 120 bombs. This marked the single biggest US attack on 'Iranian proxies' in the region since the Gaza war began, but it didn't take long for these very groups to strike back.
The "Islamic Resistance in Iraq" as early as Saturday announced it attacked bases that house US soldiers in Erbil; however, some local sources have disputed that the attack took place, or at least came near where Americans were housed.
Importantly, President Biden in his statement on the Friday strikes underscored "Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing."
This means the escalating tit-for-tat will continue to spiral, as the latest overnight attack against an American base in northeast Syria also demonstrates:
Seven fighters from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in an attack on an American base in eastern Syria overnight, a war monitor said Monday.
Seven SDF special forces "commandos" were killed and 18 others wounded in "a drone attack after midnight" on the Al-Omar oil field, the largest US-led coalition base in the country, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, updating an earlier toll.
One UK-based war monitor concluded that it marked the first major "attack by pro-Iran groups against American bases after the US strikes on Syria and Iraq."
Al-Omar has come to symbolize the years-long US military occupation of Syria's only oil and gas rich region, which before the war was an area producing just enough energy for Syria's domestic consumption. The Pentagon has used it as a base of operations to train its local proxy, the Kurdish-dominated SDF.
While the Pentagon officially maintains this is still part of the 'counter-ISIS' mission, the reality is that it has long been a counter-Iran mission, and part of ongoing efforts to isolate and punish the Assad government. Essentially it is resource theft which seeks to deny the 'pro-Iran axis' access to its own natural resources.
In the wake of this latest attack in eastern Syria, US officials have said Washington has a right to respond to the aggression. Such attacks on American outposts in this region are nothing new, but this is certainly one of the deadliest. It follows a week ago the deaths of three US Army soldiers at Tower 22 base on the Syria-Jordan border.
In the new Al-Omar attack, there doesn't appear to have been any American casualties, or at least none which have been publicly disclosed.
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