US approves strikes on ‘Iranian targets’ – media
The US will carry out a series of strikes on “Iranian personnel and facilities” in Iraq and Syria in response to a deadly attack on American troops in Jordan, CBS News reported on Thursday, citing anonymous officials. Tehran has vowed to strike back if its people or interests are threatened.
The officials did not state when the strikes would begin, but said US forces would likely wait for good weather in order to maximize accuracy. Sources told CBS the strikes would take place over several days, while NBC News quoted the same officials as saying that the campaign could last “weeks.”
American forces regularly engage in tit-for-tat strikes with Iran-aligned militia groups in Iraq and Syria, although the admission that the coming attacks could last for several weeks marks a significant escalation in the long-running conflict.
The news came after one of these groups killed three American troops and wounded dozens more in a drone attack on a US outpost in Jordan on Sunday. US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he had decided how to respond to the strike, without revealing further information.
Following Biden’s announcement, Kataib Hezbollah, the most powerful Iraqi militia group, announced it would suspend “military and security operations against the occupation forces [US troops] – in order to prevent embarrassment to the Iraqi government.” The Biden administration believed that the Islamic Resistance – an umbrella group of militias including Kataib Hezbollah – was behind the Jordan attack, although none of these militias has claimed responsibility.
By the time of Biden’s statement, the Islamic Resistance had struck US bases in the Middle East more than 150 times since the Israel-Hamas war began in October, in a campaign aimed at harming Israel’s most prominent backer.
Biden also told reporters that he holds Iran responsible for the three US troop deaths, “in the sense that they’re supplying the weapons to the people who did it.”
While Iran arms and trains numerous Islamic Resistance groups in Iraq and Syria, the Foreign Ministry in Tehran insisted on Monday that these fighters “do not take orders from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Iran’s envoy to the UN, Amir Saeid Iravani, issued a warning to the US on Tuesday, stating: “The Islamic Republic will decisively respond to any attack on the county, its interests and nationals under any pretexts.”
Across the Middle East, US forces are facing potential conflict on multiple fronts. American ships and warplanes have traded missile strikes with Yemeni Houthi militants for almost two weeks, in a bid to break the Houthi blockade on “Israel-linked” shipping in the Red Sea. Elsewhere, US Air Force personnel in Iraq have been ordered to remain on standby in case of “on-ground US involvement in the Israel-Hamas war,” according to a Pentagon memo reported by The Intercept on Tuesday.