“Between Oct. 17-27, US and Coalition Forces have been attacked at least 14 separate times in Iraq and six separate times in Syria by a mix of one-way attack drones and rockets, for a total of 20 attacks to date,” Ryder said on Friday.
He added that most of the attacks were disrupted by defensive actions and failed to reach their targets.
The Pentagon earlier confirmed two US fighter jets carried out strikes against two targets in eastern Syria in response to attacks against US forces in Iraq and Syria.
According to the Pentagon, the air raids were carried out in response to an uptick in attacks by Iran’s “proxy forces” against US forces in Iraq and Syria.
Ryder has stated that additional assessments of the strikes have determined that there were no casualties as a result of the earlier airstrikes.
The Pentagon press secretary further reiterated that the recent US strikes in Syria are by no means indicative of a shift in the American approach to the Palestine-Israel conflict.
“These narrowly tailored strikes in self-defense were intended solely to protect and defend US personnel in Iraq and Syria,” Ryder said during a Friday briefing.
“They are separate and distinct from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and do not constitute a shift in the US approach to the Israel-Hamas conflict,” he added.
US President Joe Biden has also offered legal justification for American airstrikes on eastern Syria this week, saying the operations were a rightful response to a string of drone and rocket attacks on US forces in the region.
In a letter to US lawmakers published on Friday, the White House announced the air operations were in line with presidential war powers, and followed repeated “attacks against United States personnel and facilities in Iraq and Syria” this month.
“At my direction, on the night of October 26, 2023, United States forces conducted targeted strikes against facilities in eastern Syria,” Biden said, claiming that the sorties hit sites used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and “affiliated groups”.
The strikes “were intended to establish deterrence and were conducted in a manner to limit the risk of escalation and avoid civilian casualties”, the letter continued, describing them as “necessary and proportionate”.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has denied that Iran had instructed groups in Syria and Iraq to target US troops in recent days.
He stated it was Washington — not Tehran — that was fanning the violence in the region.