U.S. hits hard at militias in Iraq and Syria, retaliating for fatal drone attack
Image via AP.

Jordan
'This is a dangerous moment in the Middle East.'

The U.S. military launched an air assault on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Friday, in the opening salvo of retaliation for the drone strike that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan last weekend, according the the U.S. military and officials.

President Joe Biden and other top U.S. leaders had been warning for days that America would strike back at the militias, and they made it clear it wouldn’t be just one hit but a “tiered response” over time.

“This afternoon, at my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militia use to attack U.S. forces,” Biden said in a statement. “Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing.”

The massive barrage of strikes by manned and unmanned aircraft hit more than 85 targets at seven locations, including command and control headquarters, intelligence centers, rockets and missiles, drone and ammunition storage sites and other facilities that were connected to the militias or the IRGC’s Quds Force, the Guard’s expeditionary unit that handles Tehran’s relationship and arming of regional militias.

U.S. Central Command said the strikes used more than 125 precision munitions, and they were delivered by numerous aircraft, including long-range bombers flown from the United States. One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the operation, said B-1 bombers were used.

Two Iraqi militia officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists said that three houses used as headquarters were targeted in al-Qaim, Iraq, including a weapons storage area. An operations headquarters of the Popular Mobilization Forces, a coalition of Iranian-backed militias, in Akashat, Iraq, and weapons stores were targeted.

The assault came came just hours after Biden and top defense leaders joined grieving families to watch as the remains of the three Army Reserve soldiers were returned to the U.S. at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

It was unclear what the next steps will be, or whether the days of U.S. warnings have sent militia members scattering into hiding, making it more difficult to detect and strike them. But it was evident that the recent statement released by Kataeb Hezbollah, one of the main Iran-backed militias, saying it was suspending attacks on American troops had no impact on the administration’s plans.

The U.S. strikes appeared to stop short of directly targeting Iran or senior leaders of the Revolutionary Guard Quds Force within its borders, as the U.S. tries to prevent the conflict from escalating even further. Iran has denied it was behind the Jordan attack.

Just Friday morning, Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi reiterated earlier promises by Tehran to potentially retaliate for any U.S. strikes targeting its interests. We “will not start a war, but if a country, if a cruel force wants to bully us, the Islamic Republic of Iran will give a strong response,” Raisi said.

In a statement this week, Kataib Hezbollah announced “the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces in order to prevent embarrassment to the Iraqi government.” But Harakat al-Nujaba, one of the other major Iran-backed groups, vowed Friday to continue military operations against U.S. troops.

The U.S. has blamed the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a broad coalition of Iran-backed militias, for the deadly attack in Jordan, but has not yet narrowed it down to a specific group. Kataeb Hezbollah is, however, a top suspect.

Some of the militias have been a threat to U.S. bases for years, but the groups intensified their assaults in the wake of Israel’s war with Hamas following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and saw 250 others taken hostage. The war has led to the deaths of more than 27,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and has inflamed the Middle East.

Iran-backed militia groups throughout the region have used the conflict to justify striking Israeli or U.S. interests, including threatening civilian commercial ships and U.S. warships in the Red Sea region with drones or missiles in almost daily exchanges.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that “this is a dangerous moment in the Middle East.” He added, “We will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our interests and our people. And we will respond when we choose, where we choose and how we choose.”

“At this point, it’s time to take away even more capability than we’ve taken in the past,” Austin said.

As of Tuesday, Iran-backed militia groups had launched 166 attacks on U.S. military installations since Oct. 18, including 67 in Iraq, 98 in Syria and now one in Jordan, according to a U.S. military official. The last attack was Jan. 29 at at al-Asad airbase in Iraq, and there were no injuries or damage.

The U.S., meanwhile, has bolstered defenses at the base in Jordan that was attacked by the ran-backed militants on Sunday, according to a U.S. official.

And the Israeli military said its Arrow defense system intercepted a missile that approached the country from the Red Sea, raising suspicion it was launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The rebels did not immediately claim responsibility.

A U.S. official also said the military had taken additional self-defense strikes inside Yemen Friday against Houthi military targets deemed an imminent threat. Al-Masirah, a Houthi-run satellite news channel, said that British and American forces conducted three strikes in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah, a Houthi stronghold.

While previous U.S. responses in Iraq and Syria have been more limited, the attack on Tower 22, as the Jordan outpost is known, and the deaths of the three service members has crossed a line, the official said.

That drone attack, which also injured more than 40 service members — largely Army National Guard — was the first to result in U.S. combat deaths from the Iran-backed militias since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out. Tower 22 houses about 350 U.S. troops and sits near the demilitarized zone on the border between Jordan and Syria. The Iraqi border is only 6 miles (10 kilometers) away.

Also on Friday, the U.S. Treasury imposed new sanctions on a network of firms in Iran and Hong Kong that are accused of assisting Iran procure technology to make ballistic weapons and drones. And the U.S. hit six Iranian officials with sanctions for allegedly committing a series of malicious cyber activities against critical infrastructure in the U.S. and other nations.

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Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Associated Press


6 comments

  • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" Ameriecan

    February 2, 2024 at 6:50 pm

    Warning Sage Patriots:
    This is an AP (associated press) re-print and odds are aproxamently 99.9999999999999999% that aproxamently 99.99999999999999999% is not factual but rather “Opinion Shapeing Dook 4 Brains Leftist Propaganda”.
    You would get more “True Reporting” from The Babylon Bee.
    Find yourself some “Real News” to read.
    Thank you America,
    THIS PUBLIC SERVICE ANOUNCEMENT WAS PROVIDED FOR YOUR EDIFICATION BY THE SAGE EARL PITTS AMERICAN:
    Earl Pitts Amweican

    • tom palmer

      February 2, 2024 at 7:12 pm

      Facts trump GOP proaganda

      • Impeach Biden

        February 2, 2024 at 7:22 pm

        It’s good Biden responded. He had to as no one fears him. Proof is over 160 attacks on US installations and facilities since October. It does make me wonder if the administration warned beforehand that these specific facilities would be targeted. If so certainly not effective as the Biden administration and media team will claim.

    • TOM

      February 2, 2024 at 7:29 pm

      Thanks for monitoring the news cycles for us regular folk earl. We are lucky to have your guidance in these dark and sceary times. Keep up the great work earl american
      Tommy

  • Impeach Biden

    February 2, 2024 at 8:27 pm

    I just watched a news clip of Biden with the families of the murdered military personnel at Dover AFB. The dude looks lost. Who is calling the shots? Who is behind the curtain?

    • Dont Say FLA

      February 5, 2024 at 12:30 pm

      You can say Biden is old all you want, but the Biden administration has been wildly successful, so whoever is calling the shots, Biden or his stable cabinet of sane people, I want 4 more years of that when the alternative is an insane bigot who can’t keep employees on because he’s a big angry toddler that throws tantrums constantly.

Comments are closed.


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