The US President actually doesn’t want another war in the Middle East. Nevertheless, he threatens: the air strikes are just the beginning. And Iraq is also warning of an escalation.
The US has responded to the deadly attack by pro-Iranian militias on American soldiers in Jordan with a full-scale counterstrike on targets in Iraq and Syria. The US Air Force said it fired on more than 85 targets on Saturday night, including command centers, intelligence bases and weapons depots used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and militias affiliated with them, according to US regional command Centcom in Washington. Iraq immediately expressed sharp criticism. The attacks violated Iraq’s sovereignty, with unpredictable consequences for the entire region, the spokesman for the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces said in a televised statement.
Last Sunday, three US soldiers were killed and numerous others injured in a drone attack by pro-Iranian militias in Jordan near the Syrian border. The bodies were transferred to Dover Air Force Base in the US state of Delaware on Friday, where US President Joe Biden paid them their last respects. Only a short time later the retaliatory strike he had announced began. According to US information, seven major positions were targeted – three of them in Iraq and four in Syria. The aim was to reduce the ability of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and its allies in the region to carry out further attacks on US forces, said National Security Council Communications Director John Kirby in Washington.
Joe Biden threatens Iraq: This is just the beginning
Biden said in a written statement regarding the backlash in the two countries: “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, he stressed. “But for all those who wish to harm us, know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.” Biden announced that the air strikes were just the beginning; further military actions would follow.
Iraq has reacted sharply to US military strikes in the country. The attacks violated Iraq’s sovereignty, with unpredictable consequences, the spokesman for the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces said in a televised statement on Saturday night. The USA had recently attacked more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria from the air in response to the deadly attack by pro-Iranian militias in Jordan. These include command centers, intelligence sites and weapons depots used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and militias affiliated with them, it said.
The US attacks posed a threat “that will drag Iraq and the region into unpredictable consequences, and their consequences will be terrible for the security and stability in Iraq and the region,” Iraq’s military spokesman warned. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 18 members of pro-Iranian militias were killed in the airstrikes in Syria. According to local media reports, there were also deaths and injuries in Iraq, including militia members and civilians.
Damascus has also reported “significant damage.” “A number of civilians and soldiers were killed” and others were injured in the nighttime attacks, Syrian state media quoted a military statement as saying. Public and private property was damaged. The Syrian military said on Saturday that the “occupation of parts of Syria by US forces cannot continue.” The army is determined to “free the entire Syrian territory from terrorism and occupation.” Around 900 soldiers are still stationed in Syria in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist militia and around 2,500 in Iraq.
Blinking again in the Middle East
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is setting off again for crisis talks in the Middle East. A spokesman said he wanted to continue his diplomatic efforts in the region to reach an agreement on a new humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza war between Israel and the Islamist Hamas and the release of all hostages still held in the sealed-off coastal area. Blinken will also continue to work to prevent the conflict from spreading and to create a settlement that provides lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians alike, it said.
Since the start of the Gaza war, pro-Iranian militias have carried out almost daily attacks on US military bases in Iraq and Syria. The US government has already responded with air strikes in both countries – although on a smaller scale than the new concerted action. A group called the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq” claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on American soldiers in Jordan on Sunday. This is a kind of umbrella group of pro-Iranian militias in Iraq that have been operating together under this name since the Hamas massacre in Israel on October 7th.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.