The United States has started attacks on Iran-backed positions in Syria and Iraq, hitting about 85 targets linked to IRGC Quds Force and affiliated militia groups.
The strikes are believed to be just the first in a multi-tiered response by President Joe Biden’s administration in response to the weekend attacks that were carried out by Iran-backed militants against a US base in Jordan.The attack over the weekend resulted in the death of three American service members and left more than 40 injured. Jordanian aircraft also joined the operation and were assigned targets.
Tasnim news agency, affiliated with Iran’s IRGC, reported that the several people have been killed in the attacks. Al-Jazeera said that 10 people have been killed and at least 18 people are injured in the attacks. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 18 members of Iran-backed groups were killed and that the airstrikes destroyed 26 positions sheltering Iranian militias in Al-Mayadeen and Al-Bokamal near borders between Syria and Iraq, in addition to airstrikes targeting positions near Deir Ezzor City.
A senior administration official told CNN the United States will not strike inside Iran – only focusing on targets outside of the country.
US CENTCOM has confirmed the attacks have begun, saying the airstrikes have targeted Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups.
“The airstrikes employed more than 125 precision munitions. The facilities that were struck included command and control operations, centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aired vehicle storages, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities of militia groups and their IRGC sponsors who facilitated attacks against US and Coalition forces,” CENTCOM said.
The White House said in a statement that US military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militia use to attack US forces. “Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing,” read the statement.
“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.”
Syrian state media also said that an ‘American aggression’ on a number of sites on Syria’s desert areas and the Syrian and Iraqi border resulted in a number of casualties and injuries. There are also reports that the attacks are not limited to Syria.
The report came as B-1 bombers have left Lakenheath Air Base in Britain for a mission in the Middle East, a Pentagon official told Sky News Arabia, amid reports on an imminent US airstrike against the positions of Iran-backed militants in Iraq and Syria.
US defense officials said a combat strike mission involving several B-1B “Lancer” heavy bombers is currently enroute toward the Middle East alongside KC-135 Aerial-Refueling Tankers from RAF Lakenheath in the UK, which will accompany the bombers for their transit towards US Central Command’s Area-of-Responsibility.
The Pentagon had said it did not want war with Iran and did not believe Tehran wanted war either, even as Republican pressure increased on Biden to deal a blow directly against Iran.
The Revolutionary Guards have scaled back deployment of their senior officers in Syria due to a spate of deadly Israeli strikes and will rely more on allied Shiite militia to preserve their sway there.