US launches strikes in response to attack that killed soldiers in Jordan | Conflict News

The US military has launched dozens of airstrikes against targets in Syria and Iraq, the first retaliation for a drone attack that killed three soldiers at a remote US base in Jordan.

“At my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militias use to attack U.S. forces,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement on Friday, referring to to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). .

“Our response began today. This will continue at times and places of our choosing,” he added.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) said its military forces struck more than 85 targets in the two countries “with numerous aircraft, including long-range bombers from the United States.”

“The airstrikes used more than 125 precision munitions,” the statement added.

CENTCOM said the installations that were struck included command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, weapons storage sites and other installations linked to militias or the IRGC Quds Force , the Guard expeditionary unit that manages relations with Tehran and the arming of regional groups.

Three American soldiers were kill and around 40 others injured in a drone attack on the military base known as Round 22 near the Jordanian-Syrian border on Sunday.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iran-linked groups, claimed responsibility for the attack. drone attack.

Iran has denied directing the attack, saying the groups were acting on their own.

“The United States had said from the moment of the attack that there would be a military response, and U.S. officials like Joe Biden and Lloyd Austin said the response would come in several ways. So this could very well be phase one, but the retaliatory US airstrikes have now begun,” Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan said, reporting from the Pentagon.

“This is the first step, I don’t think it will be the last,” she added.

On Friday, Syrian state media said an “American aggression” on a number of sites in the Syrian desert areas and on the Syrian-Iraqi border had caused a number of casualties and injuries.

Iraqi security sources told Al Jazeera that six airstrikes targeted a number of locations in the country.

“These airstrikes constitute a violation of Iraqi sovereignty… and constitute a threat that could lead to disastrous consequences for Iraq and the region,” Iraqi army spokesman Yahya Rasool said in a statement. communicated after the strikes.

“Dignified transfer” of bodies

Although the U.S. strikes did not target any location inside Iran, they are likely to increase concerns about tensions in the Middle East sparked by Israel’s more than three-month-old war against Gaza.

The strikes come hours after the president Biden met with the families of the three soldiers killed Sunday – identified as William Jerome Rivers, Kennedy Sanders and Breonna Moffett – as the remains of the service members arrived in the United States.

Biden and his wife Jill visited Dover Air Force Base in the US state of Delaware on Friday to honor the soldiers during the “dignified transfer” of their bodies.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff CQ Brown were also in attendance – their presence underscoring the importance, as well as the relative rarity, of returning fallen service members following the withdrawal of the United States from major foreign conflicts.

Biden’s statement Friday said the United States “does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.”

But the US president added: “Let anyone who might seek to harm us know this: if you harm an American, we will respond. »

Earlier this week, when Biden was asked if he held Iran responsible for the drone attack, he replied: “I hold them responsible, in the sense that they are providing the weapons to those who did it. »

American Republicans are calling for a forceful response, particularly directly against Iran.

The Biden administration has suggested that the U.S. response to the drone attack would be prolonged, not a single strike.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Thursday it would be a tiered approach over a period of time. “The first thing you see won’t be the last,” he told reporters.

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