The U.S. strikes on two Iranian military munitions stockpiles in Syria on Friday were carefully designed, President Joe Biden’s aides said, to send two distinct messages to Tehran.

The first was that if the attacks on U.S. forces by Iranian proxies escalate, it would force the United States into the kind of overt military confrontation with Iran that both nations have avoided since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

And the second was that if the attacks stop, both sides could quietly back away, free to resume the simmering hostilities that have characterized the relationship in recent years.