The United States approved strike plans in Iraq and Syria against multiple targets, including Iranian personnel and facilities, CBS News reported Thursday, citing U.S. officials.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday he has decided how to respond to a drone attack in northeastern Jordan near the Syrian border last Sunday, which killed three American service members and injured more than 40.
Sunday’s attack was the first to result in the loss of American lives during the war between Israel and Hamas.
Here is what we know about American projects:
Where is the United States planning to strike?
US plans to retaliate against drone attack on US Base of tower 22 near the Syria-Jordan border by targeting Iranian personnel and facilities inside both countries.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which is believed to include several armed groups financed and trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack on the base.
But on Wednesday, Kataib Hezbollah, the most powerful element of this force, announcement the suspension of hostile operations against American troops. Iran itself has denied any role in the attack.
Nonetheless, according to U.S. officials cited in the CBS report, the United States plans to continue its own strikes for several days. The timing of their launch will likely be influenced by weather conditions.
U.S. officials were quoted as saying that “the United States has the capability to conduct strikes in bad weather but prefers to have better visibility of selected targets in order to guard against inadvertent strikes on civilians who might stray into the area.” at the last moment “.
Warmongering Republican officials in the United States have called for direct strikes on Iran, but this latest plan seems to avoid any direct attack inside the country.
What did the US Secretary of Defense say?
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters Thursday that the United States will not tolerate attacks on American troops.
This was Austin’s first press conference after undergoing surgery for prostate cancer. At the press conference, he apologized for not disclosing his hospitalization. Health-related issues dominated the session, during which he said he also apologized to President Biden for not informing him of his diagnosis.
But Austin also focused on the Middle East conflict. Starting with the drone attack, he said the group behind the attack would be held accountable.
“I don’t think opponents adopt a single mindset, and so they have a lot of abilities, I have a lot more,” he said. “We will do what is necessary to protect our troops.”
“This is a dangerous moment in the Middle East,” Austin added.
“We will continue to work to avoid broader conflict in the region, but we will take whatever action is necessary to defend the United States, our interests, and our people, and we will respond when we choose, where we choose, and how we choose it. »
Although Iran has denied any involvement, Austin said that “we don’t know what Iran knew or didn’t know.” But it doesn’t really matter since Iran sponsors these groups.”
Since the start of the war between Israel and Gaza, the Pentagon has intensified its military presence in the region. As of mid-December, the United States reportedly had 19 American warships in the region.
Austin ordered the Ford — the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier — and its strike group to sail toward the eastern Mediterranean on Oct. 8, a day after the Hamas attack that started the war.
The Ford was returned to the United States on January 17, as the United States “reassessed its global force requirements,” the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet said in a statement. With Ford’s departure, the USS Eisenhower became the American aircraft carrier in the region.
Austin also addressed the actions of the Houthis, who say they are targeting Israeli-linked ships in the Red Sea in protest of Israel’s decision. offensive in Gaza. Houthis attack maritime transport to have disturbed international trade along a route that accounts for approximately 15 percent of global maritime traffic and 12 percent of global trade.
Austin said: “(They) continue to do things that are very irresponsible and illegal and so our goal is to make sure that we continue to take away the Houthis’ ability to do what they’re doing.” »
When asked by Al Jazeera if he had done enough to pressure Israel to avoid killing civilians in Gaza, where the death toll has exceeded 27,000 since October, Austin said: “We talked to them (Israel) about this weeks ago, and they said they were going to do it, and they are doing it, but I will continue to emphasize – and I know the secretary Blinken and President Biden. will continue to emphasize – the importance of addressing the issue of the Palestinian people.
“It’s crucial and you know, we’re doing more, but we’re not doing enough,” he added.
How did the tensions get there?
Since the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas on October 7, Iran-backed groups have struck U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria at least 166 times with rockets, missiles and one-way attack drones. unique, leading to about half a dozen American counterattacks on the group’s installations. in both countries.
The Houthis first launched missiles and drones into southern Israel – also to protest the war on Gaza – in October and, as Tel Aviv continued to resist international calls for a cease-fire, fire, they have considerably intensified their strikes. The US military has also carried out airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
However, although Tehran has said it supports the Houthis politically, it denies sending weapons to the group.
“The (Houthi) resistance has its own tools…and acts in accordance with its own decisions and capabilities,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri said. said in December.
In recent days, the United States has suggested that strikes against Iranian targets are imminent.
The threat of retaliation following Sunday’s drone attack on the US base in Jordan has prompted some groups to announce a halt to hostilities. But as late as Thursday, according to U.S. Central Command, Yemen’s Houthi rebels were still attacking ships and had fired a ballistic missile at a Liberian-flagged container ship in the Red Sea. The Houthis, however, did not claim responsibility for this attack.
How did Iran react to the threat of US strikes?
Iran and the United States have previously said they want to avoid an escalation of military fallout from Israel’s war on Gaza.
While Iran appears reluctant to be drawn into the conflict over Gaza, Hossein Salami, commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has warned that Tehran will respond to any US strike.
But, citing unnamed sources, Reuters also reported on Thursday that the IRGC had reduced the deployment of senior officers to Syria following the Israeli airstrikes, to avoid being drawn directly into the conflict.