US launches strikes in response to Jordan drone attack – DW – 02/02/2024

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The US has launched strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria in response to a drone attack by Iranian-backed militants that killed three US soldiers and injured dozen others at a US base in Jordan last week, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Friday.

US military forces struck more than 85 targets in both countries and the airstrikes included more than 125 precision munitions, it added.

The strikes targeted facilities like control operation centers, intelligence centers, rockets and munition supply chain bases of “militia groups and their IRGC sponsors who facilitated attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces,” CENTCOM said.  

The strikes lasted about 30 minutes, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, adding the Defense Department was still assessing damage from the strikes.

Biden says US response to ‘continue’

President Biden released a statement shortly after the strikes were announced saying he had attended the return of the remains of the three soldiers killed in Jordan at Dover Airforce Base.

“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,” he said.

“Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing,” Biden added. “The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world. But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: if you harm an American, we will respond.”

US takes aim at groups with close links to Iran

Officials in the Biden administration have said the US believes Iran bears responsibility for arming, funding and supporting militias that have launched attacks against US forces since the war between Israel and Hamas militants began, following deadly raids by Hamas militants on October 7 in the south of Israel in which some 1,200 Israelis were killed, mostly civilians, and some 240 people kidnapped. 

Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, the EU, Germany and several other governments, still holds over 100 Israeli hostages. 

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden met with the families of the three fallen soldiers at Dover Air Force Base earlier Friday
Image: Roberto Schmidt/AFP

Iran has denied it was behind the attack on the US base in Jordan.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi earlier Friday reiterated promises by Tehran to retaliate if the US strikes were to target its interests, saying: 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.” 

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Biden and other top US officials had made clear for days the US would strike back at militias for having targeted the small US outpost in Jordan. The US attributed the strike to the Iran-backed umbrella group Islamic Resistance in Iraq. 

The Biden administration had made it clear that it wouldn’t be just one hit, but a “tiered response” over time meaning the strikes could only be the first of a set of responses by the Biden adminstration.

rm/sri (Reuters, AP)

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