The US has conducted an airstrike in Syria against what it said were Iranian-affiliated facilities after a suspected Iranian drone struck a facility housing US personnel in the country, killing an American contractor and wounding five US service members.
The deadly exchange comes at an unusually sensitive time in US-Iranian relations, with the stakes high for both countries. Talks underway to release four American citizens illegally held in Iran are closing in on completion, according to a regional diplomat; Iran recently, but erroneously, said the deal was done – a strategy used in the past that indicates Tehran is hungry for the benefits such a deal might bring. Tit-for-tat strikes in Syria could rupture those relations.
Iran’s appetite for anything that revives its moribund economy is huge. One place they know they won’t get relief is over the glacial Iran nuclear deal talks. Most of America’s regional allies think the JCPOA deal, as it was known, is effectively dead.
Even so, any escalation in Syria risks spiking those tensions too.
Iran restarted its race for weapons-grade enriched uranium after former US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the deal in 2018. President Joe Biden has failed to bring America back to the table with Iran.