U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria kill nearly 40 in response to attack on troops

The United States carried out airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, targeting over 85 locations associated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and its supported militias, killing more than 30 people.

Publication: 03.02.2024 - 15:48
U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria kill nearly 40 in response to attack on troops
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This action, involving long-range B-1 bombers from the United States, was in retaliation for a recent deadly assault on U.S. forces by Iran-backed militants and marks President Joe Biden's administration's initial step in a broader response strategy.

Additional U.S. military operations are anticipated in the days ahead. These airstrikes have escalated tensions in a region already destabilized by conflict, including the recent war between Israel and Hamas initiated by the militant group's attack on Israel on October 7.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani criticized the U.S. attacks as a strategic error that would only heighten instability in the Middle East. Iraq condemned the strikes, reporting 16 civilian deaths, while in Syria, 23 individuals guarding the targets were killed, according to Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

U.S. Lieutenant General Douglas Sims stated the strikes were effective, causing significant secondary explosions. However, the Pentagon emphasized its desire to avoid war with Iran, countering Republican pressure for a more direct confrontation.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced further actions would follow against the IRGC and related groups, emphasizing the U.S. does not seek conflict but will protect its forces. The Iraqi government criticized the U.S. for bombing areas near civilian sites and Iraqi security forces, leading to 16 deaths and 23 injuries. The U.S. insisted it had informed Iraq before the strikes, a claim Baghdad disputed.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of dangerously escalating the conflict. Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi warned of a strong response to aggression, while Hamas criticized the U.S. for exacerbating tensions. The U.K. and Poland expressed support for the U.S.'s right to defend its troops.

The strikes targeted various military assets, including command centers and weapon storage facilities. In Iraq, residents reported strikes in residential areas also used by armed groups, leading militants to flee. The U.S. has faced over 160 attacks on its troops in the region since October 7, attributing a deadly drone attack in Jordan to Iran. President Biden vowed a continued response at times and places of the U.S.'s choosing, amidst criticism for not acting swiftly or decisively enough against Iran.

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