U.S. Launches Precision Strikes on Iranian-Linked Sites in Iraq and Syria
Washington, D.C. – In a significant move, the United States initiated targeted attacks on Friday, hitting 85 sites in Iraq and Syria that were reportedly utilized by Iranian forces and Iran-backed militants. This marked the U.S.’s first retaliatory action following the tragic killing of three American soldiers in Jordan over the weekend, as confirmed by U.S. officials.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby addressed reporters, revealing that U.S. military forces pinpointed seven facilities associated with previous attacks on American personnel in the region. The targets included command and control operations, intelligence centers, rockets and missiles, and drone storage facilities, according to statements from U.S. Central Command.
President Joe Biden, in a statement, emphasized that the response had commenced and would persist at times and locations chosen by the United States. He clarified that while the U.S. does not seek conflict in the Middle East or elsewhere globally, any harm to Americans would elicit a decisive response.
The military action represents a notable escalation in Washington’s efforts to counter the perceived threat from Iran-backed groups across the Middle East. This move carries inherent risks on both foreign and domestic fronts, particularly as President Biden strives to prevent the Israel-Hamas conflict from escalating into a broader regional war while managing re-election concerns.
President Biden had previously stated the U.S.’s intention to take military action following the drone attack by Iran-backed militants at a remote U.S. base in Jordan, resulting in the deaths of three soldiers and the injury of over 40 others. Biden personally attended the dignified return of the fallen soldiers at Dover Air Force Base earlier on the same day.
Syrian state television reported casualties resulting from the U.S. strikes, though specific numbers were not provided. Kirby acknowledged the uncertainty regarding the number of militants killed or wounded but stressed that the targets were meticulously chosen to minimize civilian casualties.
The selected targets were based on “clear, irrefutable evidence” connecting them to previous attacks on U.S. personnel in the region, according to Kirby. Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II informed reporters that the U.S. was aware that the facilities were used by Iranian-backed militia personnel and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Sims explained, “We made these strikes tonight with an idea that there would likely be casualties associated with people inside those facilities.” The U.S. employed over 125 precision munitions in the strikes.
The US has launched a wave of strikes on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups in Iraq and Syria.
Sky’s @Stone_SkyNews explains what we know about these airstrikes.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 3, 2024
The Iraqi army condemned the U.S. airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraqi border areas, denouncing the air assault as a “violation of Iraqi sovereignty” and warning of potential unforeseen consequences.
Yahya Rasool Abdullah, a spokesman for the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, stated that the strikes occurred at a crucial time when Iraq is striving to ensure regional stability. Kirby assured reporters that the U.S. had informed the Iraqi government about the strikes before their execution.
Before the strikes, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had promised a “multitier response,” and insiders revealed to NBC News that President Biden had settled on a plan expected to unfold over multiple days, possibly weeks.
Despite vowing retaliation, President Biden and his deputies made it clear that Washington does not seek a war with Iran or a broader conflict in the region. This sentiment was reiterated in the president’s Friday statement, suggesting that reprisal strikes were unlikely to target sites within Iran itself.
Defense Secretary Austin reinforced this stance, stating, “We will continue to work to avoid a wider conflict in a region, but we will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our interests, and our people.” He emphasized that attacks on American forces would not be tolerated.
Iran denied involvement in the Jordan drone attack and expressed a reluctance for direct confrontation with the U.S. Despite previous U.S. airstrikes on Tehran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria, tensions escalated after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.
The Pentagon reported more than 160 attacks on U.S. forces by Iran-backed groups since Oct. 7. Meanwhile, Houthi forces in Yemen continued their attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, using drones and missiles. The U.S. Navy intercepted several Houthi projectiles, but some hit commercial vessels, leading major shipping companies to reroute cargo.
Recent U.S. military strikes targeted Houthi forces in Yemen, hitting launch sites and command centers. The Biden administration’s approach regarding potential action against Iranian ships suspected of assisting the Houthis remains unclear.
The last time the U.S. military targeted an Iranian ship was in 1988, responding to a mine planted by Iran that hit an American vessel in the Persian Gulf. Tehran denied direct involvement in the Jordan incident but warned of a strong response to any perceived threat from the U.S.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in a televised speech on Friday, stated, “We will not start any war, but if anyone wants to bully us, they will receive a strong response.” Chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Hossein Salami, emphasized that threats from American officials would not go unanswered, highlighting the current tension between the two nations.