The United States says it wants to prevent an escalation of conflicts in the Middle East, but after Friday’s air strikes, Iraq and Syria are accusing the Americans of adding fuel to the fire.
The US strikes were intended in retaliation for an attack on an American base last week that left three dead and 40 injured. According to White House spokesman John Kirby, this is the first, but not the last, response from the Americans.
The targets of the attacks included the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, as well as militias affiliated with that movement. More than 85 targets are said to have been hit, including command centres, intelligence centers and ammunition depots. Just like warehouses for unmanned aircraft.
Six pro-Iranian fighters were reportedly killed in eastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The numbers have not been independently determined. According to the Syrian government, “civilians and military personnel have been killed and significant damage has been caused to private and public property” and the “US occupation” of parts of the country can no longer continue. Since the fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, American troops have been on Syrian soil.
Sixteen people, including civilians, were killed and 25 injured in Iraq, according to the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. Iraq calls the attacks a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty. The US claim that Iraq was informed in advance of the airstrikes is a “lie”, according to Iraq.
The US says it does not want an escalation, but is accused of that
Although Biden emphasized on Friday that the US is not looking for a conflict in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world, the US air strikes are being interpreted that way.
In a statement, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Sudani said the presence of an American-led military coalition in the region “has become a reason for a threat to security and stability in Iraq and a reason for Iran to involve Iraq in regional and international conflicts”.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry says the United States is adding fuel to the conflict in the region.
Iran responded that the attacks violate international law and saddle the entire region with even more tension and instability.
On February 1, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that “recent events do not prompt the United States to withdraw its troops from Iraq and Syria.”
The situation in the Middle East is on edge due to the war in the Gaza Strip. There, Israel is carrying out heavy bombardments that have already killed tens of thousands of Palestinians, including many civilians. Israel started this after Hamas carried out an attack in Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and abducting some 240 people to the Gaza Strip.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East on Sunday. It is his fifth visit to the region since October 7.