US launches retaliatory strikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran-linked targets By Reuters

By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military launched airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on Friday against more than 85 targets linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and militias it supports, in retaliation for last weekend’s attack in Jordan that killed three American soldiers.

The strikes, which included the use of long-range B-1 bombers from the United States, are the first in a multi-layered response by President Joe Biden’s administration to the attack by Iran-backed militants, and further US military operations are expected. in the next days.

While the US strikes did not target sites inside Iran, they signal a further escalation of conflict in the Middle East due to the more than three-month war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza.

The US military said in a statement that the strikes hit targets including command and control centers, rocket, missile and drone storage facilities, as well as logistics and ammunition supply facilities.

American forces hit more than 85 targets in seven locations, four in Syria and three in Iraq, the military said.

The attacks targeted the Quds Force, the paramilitary and foreign espionage arm of the IRGC that heavily influences allied militias across the Middle East, from Lebanon to Iraq and from Yemen to Syria.

US Lieutenant General Douglas Sims, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the attacks appeared to have been successful, triggering large secondary explosions when bombs hit militants’ weapons, although it was unclear whether any militants were killed.

But Sims added that the attacks were carried out knowing that there would likely be casualties among those in the facilities.

He added that weather was a key factor in the timing of the operation.

Syrian state media said on Friday that an “American aggression” at sites in desert areas and on the Syrian-Iraqi border had left numerous dead and injured.

The Iraqi army said the attacks occurred in the Iraqi border area and warned they could trigger instability in the region.

“These airstrikes constitute a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, undermine the efforts of the Iraqi government and pose a threat that could lead Iraq and the region to disastrous consequences,” Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasool said in a statement.


The attack on Jordan last weekend was the first deadly attack against American troops since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out in October.

The United States has assessed that the drone that killed the three soldiers and injured more than 40 other people was made by Iran, U.S. officials told Reuters.

“Our response began today. It will continue at the times and places of our choosing,” Biden said in a statement. Last Friday, Biden and Pentagon leaders were present at Dover Air Force Base (NYSE:) in Delaware as the remains of the three soldiers were returned.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Biden had directed further action against the IRGC and those linked to it.

“This is the beginning of our response,” Austin said.

But the Pentagon has said it doesn’t want war with Iran and doesn’t believe Tehran wants war either, even as Republican pressure has mounted on Biden to deliver a direct blow.

“We do not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else, but the president and I will not tolerate attacks against American forces,” Austin said.

The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Roger Wicker, criticized Biden for not imposing a high enough cost on Iran and for taking too long to respond.

“The Biden administration spent nearly a week foolishly telegraphing U.S. intentions to our adversaries, giving them time to move in and hide,” Wicker said.

Before Friday’s retaliatory attacks, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Iran would not start a war but would “reply forcefully” to anyone who tried to intimidate him.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby (NYSE:) said the Biden administration had not communicated with Iran following the attack on Jordan.

Iranian advisers assist armed groups in both Iraq, where the United States has about 2,500 troops, and Syria, where it has 900.

US troops have been attacked more than 160 times in Iraq, Syria and Jordan since Hamas’ rampage into Israel sparked the conflict on October 7. In response to the Hamas attack, Israel bombed the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, leaving Palestinians in Gaza. with few places to escape.

Houthi fighters in Yemen have fired drones and missiles at ships in the Red Sea, aiming to support Palestinians against Israel.

Baghdad and Washington, meanwhile, agreed to set up a committee to begin talks on the future of the US-led military coalition in Iraq, with the aim of setting a timetable for a gradual withdrawal of troops and an end to the US-led conflict. United States. coalition against the Islamic State.

Kirby said the Iraqi government was informed in advance of Friday’s attacks.

Iraq’s shadowy Kataib Hezbollah, blamed by the United States for the attack on Jordan, said Tuesday it would suspend attacks against U.S. forces.

But another Iranian-backed Iraqi group, Nujaba, said it would continue launching attacks against US forces in the region until the Gaza war ends and US forces leave Iraq.

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