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On Friday, the U.S. struck Iran-backed militants and Iranian military targets in response to a drone strike that killed three American soldiers in Jordan. The strikes started at 4 p.m. Eastern Time and lasted for over 30 minutes. They involved B-1B bombers, which flew 6,000 miles from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas. The attacks in western Iraq and eastern Syria used over 125 bombs and precision munitions. The course of events that follow remains uncertain, but the world is watching, curious about what may transpire.
The official statement by US Central Command said, “The facilities that were struck included command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicle storages, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities of militia groups and their IRGC sponsors who facilitated attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces.”
President Joe Biden said, “The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.” He continued, saying, “But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.”
Potentially More Attacks
A senior Biden administration official hinted at more attacks and told NBC News, “What you saw last night and what you are going to see again was not insignificant. When you hit 85 targets over 30 minutes, that sends a strong signal about the capability that we have.” He continued, hinting at covert measures, saying, “There are other things we’re going to do, some you will see and some you won’t see.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an organization specializing in reporting on the Syrian conflict, verified that 29 members of Iranian militias were killed in airstrikes targeting 28 positions. In addition, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, a state security force comprising Iran-backed groups, independently disclosed that 16 of its members, including fighters and medics, were among those killed.
On Saturday, the Baghdad government reported that “16 Iraqis, including civilians, lost their lives.” Across the border, the Syrian Defense Ministry acknowledged civilians were among the casualties but did not specify the number. The attack the U.S. is responding to killed three American troops and injured dozens of others. It occurred at the Tower 22 base near Jordan’s border with Iraq and Syria.
Jordan Denies Involvement
According to a Jordanian military source speaking to the state-owned Al-Mamlaka TV, Jordan denied involvement in U.S. strikes on Iraqi soil. However, the Jordanian statement did not address any potential involvement in strikes on Syrian territory.
This is not the only U.S. military attack in the last 24 hours. U.S. fighter jets targeted Houthi rebel drones in Yemen. There were also suspicions that Israel was involved in the killing of an Iranian military adviser in Syria.
“Axis of Resistance”
A coalition of militant groups, collectively known as the “Axis of Resistance” and backed by Iran, has been actively launching attacks against Israel, the United States, and international shipping. These actions are framed by the militants as a form of protest against Israel’s military operations and a show of support for the Palestinian cause. Within this alliance, Iran-backed militants have intensified their assaults on American forces deployed across the Middle East, a presence established in the aftermath of the Syrian civil war and the military campaign against ISIS.
The frequency of attacks by these groups has surpassed 160 incidents, spanning Syria and Iraq. These assaults have resulted in injuries to American soldiers, with some sustaining brain injuries. It was the drone strike resulting in the deaths of American troops that prompted this military strike by the Biden administration.
“Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups continue to represent a direct threat to the stability of Iraq, the region, and the safety of Americans. We will continue to take action, do whatever is necessary to protect our people, and hold those responsible who threaten their safety,” Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, U.S. CENTCOM Commander, said.
U.S. Communicated With Iran
The U.S. provided sufficient time for Iranian military commanders and their allies to evacuate. According to a senior Iraqi official speaking to NBC News on Wednesday, they vacated sensitive locations and relocated weapons.
A few days before the military strike, the U.N.’s Nuclear Watchdog reported that Iran was decreasing its production of enriched uranium. Enriched uranium is a key component in the development of nuclear weapons. Decreasing production could potentially be an indication of a potential effort by Tehran to alleviate tensions with the United States.
The evolving situation underscores the heightened tensions and ongoing challenges faced by U.S. forces in the region due to the activities of Iranian-backed militants. The effects of ongoing conflict could impact oil prices, international shipping, and regional stability.
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Sam Whisnant is a college student with a talent for writing and a natural curiosity about the world. He combines his academic pursuits with a passion for sharing knowledge in a way that is both informative and engaging to his readers.