US President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attend the transfer of the bodies of Army Reserve Sergeants William Rivers, Kennedy Sanders and Breonna Moffett, killed by ia drone attack by Iran-backed militias on Jordan, Dover Air Force Base, Dover, Delaware, February 2, 2024 (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
UPDATE, FEB 4:
The US and UK struck 36 positions of Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on Saturday.
The targets were in 13 different locations on launchers, radar sites, drones, and a ground control station, said US officials and the UK Ministry of Defense.
The strikes, from warships and jet fighters, are responding to attacks by the Houthis on shipping in the Red Sea as well to the killing and wounding of US personnel in assaults by Iran-linked militias in Iraq and Syria.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said of Saturday’s operation:
[This] sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels.
We will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways.
Houthi official Mohammed al-Bukhaiti declared:
Military operations against Israel will continue until the crimes of genocide in Gaza are stopped and the siege on its residents is lifted, no matter the sacrifices it costs us….
American-British aggression against Yemen will not go unanswered, and we will meet escalation with escalation.
UPDATE 1045 GMT:
US strikes killed 16 people, including civilians, and injured 25 in western Iraq, says the office of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.
The office condemned the attacks as a “new aggression against Iraq’s sovereignty”. It said claims that they were coordinated by the Iraqi Government were “lies”.
US officials said they informed Iraq in advance of the strikes on Iran-backed militias.
UPDATE 1029 GMT:
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has finally reacted to the US airstrikes on Tehran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria.
The Ministry insisted that the response “represents another adventurous and strategic mistake by the US” that will “result only in increased tension in instability in the region”.
A spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry said the country strongly condemned the US military strikes as “violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Iraq and Syria.
The regime’s de facto English-language spokesman, Tehran University academic Seyyed Mohammad Marandi, has tweeted a whopper of a lie:
The US is striking anti-ISIS bases in eastern Syria. These bases have nothing to do with the strikes against US occupation forces.
And Press TV declares that the Iranian military “has unveiled a new precision strike, smart and long-range missile among several other achievements developed and manufactured domestically by Iranian experts”.
UPDATE 0743 GMT:
Iran’s officials have said little so far about the US strikes on the militias they support in Iraq and Syria.
Instead, the State English-language outlet Press TV is featuring a statement by one of the militias, the Islamic Resistance of Iraq. The group proclaims that it has responded with missiles on the Ain al-Assad Airbase in western Iraq, and with missiles and drones on the al-Tanf base in eastern Syria and al-Khadra Village in the northeast.
Security forces rejected the militia’s assertation that it targeted al-Harir airbase in northern Iraq.
The Islamic Resistance claimed responsibility for Sunday’s drone attack that killed three US troops in Jordan, the cause of Friday’s retaliation by American forces.
Hours before the strikes, Iran President Ebrahim Raisi blustered in a speech in the south of the country, “We have said many times that we will not be the initiator of any war, but if a country or a cruel force wants to bully the Islamic Republic of Iran, it will respond firmly.”
UPDATE 0735 GMT:
Unconfirmed claims say at least 18 Iran-backed fighters were killed in eastern Syria by Friday’s US airstrikes on at least 26 major sites, including weapons depots.
The Americans reportedly hit 17 positions in Deir ez-Zor Province. Three attacks targeted al-Mayadeen and one was on Al Bukamal near the Iraqi border.
“Two Iraqi security sources” said the bombers hit a weapons warehouse and a command center of the Iran-supported militias in western Iraq. There were “some injuries”.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Retaliating for the killing of three US troops and wounding of at least 34 by Iran-linked militias on Sunday, American warplanes have struck more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria “against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force and affiliated militia groups”.
US defense officials said the targets were spread across seven locations, three in Iraq and four in Syria. They included command and control centers, intelligence centers, rockets, missiles, drone storages, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities.
The warplanes, including B-1 bombers, dropped 125 munitions over 30 minutes.
A “senior administration official” said there will be no attacks on targets inside Iran.
The strikes came hours after US President Joe Biden attended a ceremony for the transfer of the bodies of the three American troops slain at an outpost in Jordan, meeting their family members.
Biden said in a statement after the strikes:
Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing.
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.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, speaking of “the start of our response”, echoed:
These will unfold at times and places of our choosing. We do not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else, but the President and I will not tolerate attacks on American forces.
We will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our forces, and our interests.