UpdateThe United States has carried out multiple attacks on positions of elite Iranian military units and Iranian allies in Iraq and Syria. At least eighteen people have been killed, according to a Syrian human rights organization.
The US is said to have bombarded at least 85 targets with air strikes. This would include command posts and missile storage facilities. B-1 bombers, among others, were used in the attacks.
The bombings are seen as retaliation for the deaths of American soldiers in Jordan. On Sunday, an American base was attacked with a drone, resulting in three deaths and dozens of injuries. According to the US, the drone attack was carried out by Iran’s allies.
US President Joe Biden then issued a statement: “Our response started today. It will continue at the times we want. The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world. But let anyone who wants to harm us know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.”
Iraq on Saturday labeled the US retaliatory strikes as “a violation of Iraqi sovereignty”. It also warned of “disastrous consequences for the stability of Iraq and the region,” according to a statement from an Iraqi military spokesman.
According to White House spokesman John Kirby, the United States had informed Iraq before the attacks took place. He said this to reporters shortly after Iraqi condemnation of the attacks.
The Syrian government has stressed that the US occupation of parts of the country can no longer continue. It is a response to a series of air strikes carried out by the US in the region. According to Damascus, ‘civilians and military personnel were killed and significant damage was caused to private and public property.’
Since the fight against the ‘caliphate’ of the Islamic State terrorist movement, American troops have been on Syrian soil, including in the Kurdish-dominated northern regions. American bases are located in the east near Al-Shaddadi and in the south in Al-Tanf, near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders. These are often bombarded by, among others, Iraqi groups that receive support from Iran.
It was the first time that American troops have been killed by enemy fire in the Middle East since the start of the war in Gaza. Jordan has condemned the ‘terrorist attack’ on the Americans. The White House said the attack was carried out by “radical Iranian-backed militant groups active in Syria and Iraq,” without naming any group or movement.
Responsibility for the attack has not yet been claimed. In the statement, President Biden previously said that the United States would not let the attack go unanswered: “And have no doubt: we will hold all those responsible accountable at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US “will take all necessary steps to defend the United States, our troops and our interests,” according to CNN. The White House reports that the mission, which lasted about 20 minutes, was “a success.”
CNN reports, based on American officials, that the US is not planning to carry out air strikes on Iran itself. Attacking Iran would mean a huge escalation of tensions, which the sources say is unlikely.
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