US launches retaliatory airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Iraq and Syria | International

The United States launched retaliatory actions in the Middle East on Friday after a drone attack on an American base in Jordan on Sunday, during which three of its soldiers died, as confirmed by official sources. The Pentagon launched airstrikes with 125 precision munitions against more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria on militia installations allegedly supported by Iran. In the first country, 23 people guarding the facilities were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has observers on the ground. In the second, 16, including civilians who were near the attacked places, according to the government.

“This afternoon, under my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its affiliated militias use to attack U.S. forces,” he said. Biden in a statement. “Our response began today. This will continue at times and places that we choose,” he warned. “The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world. But let anyone who tries to harm us know this: If you harm an American, we will respond,” he added.

United States Central Command (Centcom) had already communicated which had carried out airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated militias. US military forces attacked more than 85 targets, with numerous aircraft, including long-range bombers, flown from the United States. More than 125 precision munitions were used in the airstrikes, Centcom said.

“Facilities attacked included command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, rocket and missile, and unmanned aerial vehicle warehouses. Also the logistical facilities and ammunition supply chain of the militias and their sponsors of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards of Iran who facilitated attacks against the United States and coalition forces,” noted the same source .

President Joe Biden and other top U.S. leaders had been warning for days that the United States would hit back at the militias as part of a “phased response.” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized in a statement released by the Pentagon the same idea as Biden, that what happened Friday is only the beginning. “The President ordered additional actions to hold Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated militias accountable for their attacks against U.S. and coalition forces. These actions will be carried out at the times and places we choose,” he said. According to Austin, there were “attacks on seven facilities, which included more than 85 targets,” without further details.

Syrian state media cited by Reuters said on Friday that “US aggression” in locations in Syria’s desert areas and on the Syrian-Iraqi border had caused several casualties and injuries. Iran’s official news agency reported shortly after the attacks that at least 10 people had been killed, including three Iraqis. The report cites Syrian and Iraqi sources. The attacks were reportedly intense near the towns of Al Mayadeen and Deir Azouz, in Syria.

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The United States says Iran is responsible for funding and arming the militants, while Iran has denied any involvement. The two powers are trying to measure the pulse they maintain. No one wants things to escalate out of control. None of the targets of this first round of airstrikes were in Iran. Washington seeks this balance in its response: on the one hand, it does not cause a serious expansion of the conflict; on the other hand, it must be powerful enough to convey the message clearly, but also to punish enemy positions and prevent further attacks.

White House sources said the facilities targeted in Friday’s attacks were carefully selected to avoid civilian casualties and were based on clear evidence that they were linked to attacks on Americans.

“The Department of Defense is in the early stages of assessing the damage, but we believe the attacks were a success,” John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, said during a briefing. press after the attacks.

Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday’s strikes used multiple aircraft, including B-1 Lancers flown from bases in the United States. “This was planned since we were asked to think about it,” Sims said, adding that weather played a role in the timing of the attacks. “The good weather showed up today and that’s what happened,” he said. Kirby said the president was kept informed throughout the afternoon. The attacks took place on a Friday afternoon, when financial markets were closed for the weekend and after multiple warnings.

“As President Biden has made clear, we will not hesitate to stand up for our people and hold accountable those who harm Americans at a time and place of our choosing,” Kirby also insisted. “It started tonight, but it won’t end tonight.”

Tribute to the victims

The American military actions coincided with the meeting, also Friday, of the president and the first lady, Jill Biden, with the grieving families at the Dover Air Force Base (Delaware) for the transfer of the three American soldiers killed during this drone attack in Jordan last time. weekend, during which 41 American service members were also injured.

The ritual that took place in Delaware with the arrival of soldiers’ coffins draped in the American flag has become relatively rare in recent years as the United States withdraws from conflicts abroad. The three soldiers are the first U.S. deaths attributed to Iranian-backed militias in the Middle East since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. All three people who died Sunday were from Georgia. Biden vowed Thursday to never forget their sacrifice for the nation, saying they “risked everything.”

On Friday, Biden held conversations with the victims’ loved ones to try to console them. He recalled that his son Beau died after serving a military mission in Iraq. The president has always linked his death from brain cancer to exposure he had abroad during his missions.

The Pentagon has not confirmed whether this round was the first in a wave, as expected. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin avoided specifying his plans during a news conference Thursday. “We are living in dangerous times in the Middle East. We will continue to work to avoid further conflict in the region, but we will take all necessary measures to defend the United States, our interests, and our people. And we will respond when we choose, where we choose, and how we choose. “That’s what everyone is focused on here right now,” he said in his opening remarks.

Asked about plans for retaliation, Austin was evasive: “We haven’t specified what our response will be, but we want those responsible to be held accountable,” he said. “We will have a multi-layered response and, again, we have the capacity to respond multiple times, depending on the situation,” he added.

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