US Launches Barrage, Starting Retaliatory Campaign

Strikes are in response to killing of three Americans in Jordan
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2024 4:26 PM CST
US Begins Retaliatory Strikes Against Iran-Backed Groups
President Biden, second left, and first lady Jill Biden stand as an Army carry team moves the transfer case containing the remains of Army Sgt. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Georgia, at Dover Air Force Base on Friday.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

US forces launched new airstrikes against Iranian-backed militants in Iraq and Syria on Friday, kicking off a campaign of retaliation for the killing of three American soldiers in Jordan on Sunday and escalating the fighting in the Middle East. More than 85 targets were hit, US Central Command said. US officials said the attacks could be broadened to more targets and other militia groups, the New York Times reports. President Biden wanted to avoid measures that could spread the fighting tied to the Israel-Hamas war, administration officials said, but believed the deaths of the Americans in a drone strike left him no options.

No targets in Iran were struck because of concern over escalation. A security official in Al Qaim, Iraq, said weapons warehouses and the headquarters of Axis of Resistance groups were attacked. Mosques were advising people to not leave their homes. The 85 sites hit are connected to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as the local militias it backs, per the Washington Post. They included command centers, intelligence sites, and drone storage sites. US officials have said many Iranian commanders moved out of the area in anticipation of the retaliation.

The strikes began hours after Biden attended the return of the three Army Reserve soldiers' remains at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where he met privately with their families, per the AP. The retaliatory campaign will continue "will continue at times and places of our choosing," Biden said in a statement Friday. "The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world," he said. "But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond." (More US military stories.)

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