US military buildup off Israeli coast requires balancing act between deterrence and escalation

© Chris Radburn, AFP

US warplanes conducted air strikes on a weapons storage facility in Syria used by Iran-backed militants on November 8 in retaliation for the growing number of attacks on US military interests in the region, the second such strikes in less than two weeks. The strikes illustrate the delicate balancing act the US must carry out as it aims to protect its interests in the region without escalating the war between Israel and Hamas into a regional conflict.

In a statement immediately released after its latest military strike in eastern Syria, Washington appears to have weighed every word to limit the risk of escalation. “US military forces conducted a self-defence strike on a facility in eastern Syria used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups,” said US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Damage control

"It’s clearly in the realm of deterrence effort, because in warfare you're trying to maximise the destruction, as opposed to what went on with these strikes," said Robert Geist Pinfold, a lecturer in international peace and security at Durham University.

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