In a significant escalation of tensions in the Middle East, U.S. warplanes carried out 85 airstrikes on Friday targeting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Force and militias in Iraq and Syria. The strikes were in response to Sunday’s drone attack in Jordan that claimed the lives of three U.S. soldiers.
According to the U.S. Central Command, the airstrikes utilized 125 precision munitions and focused on eliminating rockets, missiles, drones, and logistics systems used by the militias. The targets also included command and control centers and intelligence facilities.
President Joe Biden, in a statement announcing the attacks, emphasized that the United States does not seek conflict but issued a stern warning: “If you harm an American, we will respond.”
The strikes, lasting approximately 30 minutes, targeted seven facilities—three in Iraq and four in Syria—carefully chosen to minimize civilian casualties. White House spokesman John Kirby stated that the decision was based on “clear, irrefutable evidence” linking these facilities to attacks on U.S. personnel in the region.
The conflict escalated following a drone attack on a U.S. base along the Jordanian-Syrian border on Sunday, resulting in the death of three U.S. Army reservists and injuries to dozens. The Biden administration attributed the attack to Iranian-supplied militias.
The U.S. officials, as of now, are in the early stages of assessing the damage caused by the airstrikes. While the exact number of militants affected is unknown, the U.S. anticipates casualties among those inside the targeted facilities.
The attack specifically targeted Iran’s Quds Force, an elite unit within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps specializing in irregular warfare. The involvement of warplanes, including B-2 long-range stealth bombers, signifies the gravity of the operation.
President Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hinted at the possibility of more strikes in the future. Biden stated, “Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing.” Austin echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that Friday’s attack marked “the start of our response.”
The conflict in the Middle East has been escalating since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, leading to a significant death toll on both sides. The U.S. response aims to hold the IRGC and affiliated militias accountable for their attacks on U.S. and coalition forces.
As the situation unfolds, the international community closely watches the developments in the region, with concerns about the potential for further escalation and the broader implications of these military actions.