US unleashes strikes across Middle East
The Pentagon has commenced retaliation strikes in response to a drone attack that killed three US troops at a secretive base in Jordan, targeting dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups.
“Our response began today” and “will continue at times and places of our choosing,” US President Joe Biden announced on Friday night. The airstrikes started around midnight on Saturday local time and hit more than 85 Iranian-linked targets, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.
The bombings come nearly one week after a drone packed with explosives struck Tower 22, a US base in Jordan located near the Syrian and Iraqi borders, killing three soldiers and wounding more than 40 others. The attack, which the US blamed on the Iranian-backed Islamic Resistance in Iraq, marked the first deaths of American troops in a wave of assaults triggered by the Israel-Hamas war.
05 February 202423:08 GMT
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- 16:36 GMT
British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps has told the House of Commons that joint UK and US strikes on the Houthis in Yemen have had a “significant effect” in degrading the group’s abilities to disrupt Red Sea shipping routes. However, he added that the threat posed by the group “has not been fully diminished.”
The Houthis, who have been targeting vessels navigating the waterway in protest at Israel’s offensive against Palestinians in Gaza, “believe they are the region’s Robin Hood,” Shapps claimed. “The only people they are robbing are innocent Yemenis, whose food and aid arrives via the Red Sea,” he added.
Shapps also insisted that the most recent strikes in Yemen on Saturday were “very carefully planned” so that “minimal” civilian casualties might occur, and that the UK will not hesitate to launch further military action if required.
- 16:21 GMT
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Saudi Arabia amid a backdrop of increased regional tensions and expanded attacks between Washington and various militia groups.
The United States’ top diplomat wants to emphasize that the Biden administration is pursuing a deescalation of confrontations against Tehran-aligned militias, a State Department official told reporters. The US has in recent days targeted militant groups in both Syria and Iraq.
“The United States does not want to see the conflict escalated” and will not seek to “escalate the conflict,” the official said, according to the Washington Post.
- 14:21 GMT
The US airstrikes in Syria, Iraq and Yemen are just “a clumsy attempt to divert public attention from the focal point of the crisis” in the Middle East, which is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani has said.
“The epicenter of the crisis is still in Palestine, and the solution is to end the genocide,” Kanaani stressed. But instead of working towards peace, Washington is “willing to give the [Israeli] regime free rein to continue crimes,” he added.
Such actions by the Americans are “inconsistent with their claims on non-expansion of the [Gaza] war in the region,” the spokesman insisted.
- 14:16 GMT
Australia, which is a member of the US-led coalition in the Red Sea, considers the American airstrikes in Syria, Iraq and Yemen to be an appropriate response that will not exacerbate tensions in the region, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said.
“We support the actions of the US. These are proportionate, these are retaliatory [steps] for the actions of Iran-backed organizations and they are not an escalation. So, we think that the US has got it right,” Albanese said in an interview with ABC.
- 13:52 GMT
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin has commented on the US strikes in Syria and Iraq over the weekend, saying that Beijing “opposes any act that violates the UN Charter and infringes upon other countries’ territorial sovereignty and security.”
China urges all the parties involved “to earnestly observe the international law, remain calm, exercise restraint and prevent the tensions in the region from escalating or even spiraling out of control,” he stressed.
- 12:51 GMT
Six US-backed Kurdish fighters have been killed in a drone strike on a base housing American troops in Syria, Al Arabiya has reported, citing the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
According to the SDF, UAVs targeted a training ground at al-Omar base in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor, which borders Iraq, late on Sunday. The Kurds blamed the attack on “Syrian regime-backed mercenaries.” No US servicemen were harmed in the incident, Al Arabiya said.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said had been aimed “against the US occupation base in the al-Omar oil field.” The group also published footage on social media showing what it claimed was the launch of drones toward the base.
- 08:32 GMT
A member of the Houthi political bureau, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, has said the fact that only two countries – the US and UK – have so far been actually carrying out strikes on Yemen is a sign of differences among members of the American-led coalition in the Red Sea.
Bukhaiti described the attacks that have taken place so far as “ineffectual” and warned that “the spillover of the [conflict in Gaza] will inevitably result in an end to US hegemony across the region,” PRESS TV has reported.
- 07:35 GMT
The Houthi foreign ministry has condemned the latest US and UK strikes on Yemen, saying that the continuing “aggression” by Washington and London points to the UN Security Council’s failure to take on its responsibilities.
The attacks by the Americans and the British are intended to distract the public from Israeli “defeats as they perpetrate atrocities against ordinary people and civilians in Gaza,” it said.
”These assaults won’t ever make the Republic of Yemen do a volte-face on its humanitarian and ethical duties concerning Palestinians and their cause,” the ministry stressed.
- 06:52 GMT
The US and UK will not achieve their goals by striking Yemen, but will only “increase their issues and problems at the regional level,” Houthi spokesman Mohammad Abdul Salam has said in a statement on X (formerly Twitter).
The strikes will not affect the group’s decision to support the Palestinians in Gaza while Israel continues its attacks, he insisted. Abdul Salam also said that Houthi military capabilities “are not easy to destroy and have been rebuilt during years of harsh war.”
Instead of further escalating tensions, Washington and London should instead “submit to international public opinion, which demands an immediate halt to the Israeli aggression, lift the siege on Gaza and stop protecting Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people,” the spokesman stressed.