TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Pentagon and U.S. officials say U.S. fighter aircraft conducted airstrikes on locations in Syria.
The strikes were organized by U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force base and authorized by President Joe Biden.
Retired Gen. Frank McKenzie was recently the head of CENTCOM and says the airstrikes were designed to send a clear message to Iran.
“The idea is to prevent escalation, to let Iran know that their attacks are not going to go unchallenged, that we have brought significant new combat power into the theater, two aircraft carriers, a number of fighter squadrons, two patriot missile defense systems and we have significant capabilities there,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie said proxy groups for Iran are conducting attacks on U.S. forces in the region as part of a wider mission directed by Iran.
“Now, what’s happening in Iraq and Syria, you know an alphabet soup of three letter groups that are attacking our forces. They are all, again, directly tied back to Iraq, through various degrees of complicity. All of these things are designed to make it hard for us to attribute the hand of Iran in the attacks, but we should not be under any illusion, Iran is behind these attacks and these attacks serve the Iranian goal of attempting to eject the United States from the region. They are very dangerous and irresponsible attacks,” said McKenzie.
According to McKenzie, the attacks by groups backed by Iran are designed to push the U.S. out of the region. He says the U.S. is there to support Israel so the conflict in Gaza is not joined by other nations that want to harm Israel.
While the conflict in the region is complex for many reasons, McKenzie says Israel must focus on its main mission.
“The number one thing, the paramount thing is, they want to dismantle Hamas’s political and military leadership, their ability to fight and their ability to govern,” said McKenzie.
However, the next question for Israel will be how to end the war.
“All wars have to have some form of a political outcome. So, who’s going to rule in Gaza when this is over, who’s going to provide basic services, security services, health services, all the things that a large population need going forward. Difficult to know what that’s going to be right now,” McKenzie added.