US airstrikes hit ‘more than 85 targets’ in Iraq and Syria; at least 18 reported killed in eastern Syria – live | Joe Biden

US military says it struck ‘more than 85 targets’

US Central Command has said its forces conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups.

The airstrikes were carried out at 4pm eastern time on Friday, it said.

It said US military forces struck more than 85 targets including “command and control operations, centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aired vehicle storages, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities” belonging to militia groups and their IRGC sponsors.

CENTCOM Statement on U.S. Stikes in Iraq and Syria

At 4:00 p.m. (EST) Feb. 02, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups. U.S. military forces… pic.twitter.com/q9gFDxppmo

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 2, 2024

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Key events

US strikes ‘hit exactly what we meant to hit’

Julian Borger

Julian Borger

The US has said that the 85 targets were grouped in seven different locations – four in Syria and three in Iraq.

Lt Gen Douglas Sims, director for operations on the Joint Staff, said the timing of the strikes was determined by the weather, with the best weather appearing today.

“The initial indications are that we hit exactly what we meant to hit with a number of secondary explosions associated with the ammunition and logistics locations,” he said.

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Iraqi military warns US strikes could lead to ‘dire consequences’

An Iraqi military spokesperson has said US airstrikes were launched at Iraqi border areas, warning that the attacks could ignite instability in the region.

Iraqi military spokesperson Yahya Rasool said in a statement reported by Reuters:

These airstrikes constitute a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, undermine the efforts of the Iraqi government, and pose a threat that could lead Iraq and the region into dire consequences.

Death toll from airstrikes in eastern Syria rises to 18 – reports

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor has said strikes in eastern Syria have resulted in the deaths of “at least 18 pro-Iran fighters”.

At least 26 important sites housing pro-Iranian groups including weapons depots have been destroyed in ongoing raids striking a large swath of eastern Syria, stretching more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) from the city of Deir ez-Zor to Albu Kamal, near the Iraqi border, the monitoring group told AFP.

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‘This is the start of our response’: Austin says US forces struck seven facilities in Iraq and Syria

The US secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, has released a statement confirming that US forces conducted strikes on targets in Iraq and Syria.

A statement reads:

Following the attack on U.S. and Coalition Forces in northeastern Jordan this past Sunday that killed three U.S. service members, at President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces today conducted strikes on seven facilities, which included more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria, that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated militias use to attack U.S. forces.

This is the start of our response. The President has directed additional actions to hold the IRGC and affiliated militias accountable for their attacks on U.S. and Coalition Forces. 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.

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At least 13 killed in airstrikes in eastern Syria – report

At least 13 Iranian-backed fighters have been killed in strikes in eastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said.

The airstrikes destroyed 17 positions sheltering Iranian militias in Al-Mayadeen and Al-Bokamal near the border between Syria and Iraq, in addition to airstrikes targeting positions near Deir ez-Zor city, it said.

Syrian state media said earlier that a number of sites on Syria’s desert areas and the Syrian and Iraqi border had resulted in a number of casualties and injuries.

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Six Iranian-backed militia members have been killed and four others injured as a result of airstrikes on Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

At least three of those killed were of non-Syrian nationality, the group said.

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Biden: US response to drone attack to continue ‘at times and places of our choosing’

The White House has released a statement from Joe Biden following the news that the US launched airstrikes against targets in Syria and Iraq in response to Sunday’s drone attack on a US military base that killed three soldiers.

The statement reads:

This afternoon, at my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militia use to attack U.S. forces.

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.

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Just minutes before the first reports on the strikes, Joe Biden attended a solemn ritual at Dover air force base in Delaware for the return of the remains of the three fallen US troops killed in last weekend’s drone attack in Jordan.

The US president and the first lady, Jill Biden, joined grieving families as they honored the three American service members killed: Sgt William Jerome Rivers of Carrollton, Sgt Kennedy Sanders of Waycross and Sgt Breonna Moffett of Savannah.

“They risked it all,” Biden said on Thursday. He did not speak at Friday’s event.

The defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, and Gen CQ Brown, chair of the joint chiefs of staff, also attended.

Joe Biden attends the transfer of remains in Delaware on Friday. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Syrian state media is reporting that an “American aggression“ on sites in the country’s desert areas and the Syrian and Iraqi border have resulted in a number of casualties and injuries.

US military says it struck ‘more than 85 targets’

US Central Command has said its forces conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups.

The airstrikes were carried out at 4pm eastern time on Friday, it said.

It said US military forces struck more than 85 targets including “command and control operations, centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aired vehicle storages, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities” belonging to militia groups and their IRGC sponsors.

CENTCOM Statement on U.S. Stikes in Iraq and Syria

At 4:00 p.m. (EST) Feb. 02, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups. U.S. military forces… pic.twitter.com/q9gFDxppmo

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 2, 2024

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US warned it would carry out ‘multi-tier response’ to Jordan attack

The US had warned it will carry out a series of reprisal strikes launched over more than one day in response to the drone strike over the weekend.

The US defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, did not specify the timing or precise location of strikes during Pentagon press conference on Thursday, but said:

We will have a multi-tier response and we have the ability to respond a number of times depending on the situation … We look to hold the people responsible for this accountable and we also seek to take away capability as we go forward.

Austin insisted that a lot of thought in Washington had gone into ensuring that the US response did not trigger a major escalation.

The secretary of defense stressed the US was not at war with Iran and Washington did not know if Tehran was aware of the specific drone strikes on Sunday mounted by what he described as the axis of resistance.

US orders ‘multi-tier response’ against Iran-backed militia – video

Three rounds of airstrikes targeted Iranian militia positions in parts of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

There have been casualties as a result, NBC reported that the organisation said.

US launched strikes on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria, say officials

The US launched an air assault on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias, in an opening salvo of retaliation for the drone strike that killed three US service members in Jordan last weekend, officials have told Associated Press.

The initial strikes by manned and unmanned aircraft were hitting command and control headquarters, ammunition storage and other facilities, according to AP.

US officials have told Reuters that the strikes targeted facilities linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the militias it backs.

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US begins to launch strikes in response to Jordan drone attack

The US has begun a wave of retaliatory airstrikes targeting militants in Iraq and Syria, according to reports, in response to a drone attack in northern Jordan which killed three American service personnel and wounded dozens more.

The strikes, reported by Associated Press and Reuters, come as Joe Biden joined grieving families at Dover air force base in Delaware on Friday as they honored the three US military personnel killed in the drone attack in Jordan last weekend.

The attack on Tower 22 was the first deadly strike against US troops since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in October.

Responsibility was claimed by the Iranian-backed umbrella group Islamic Resistance, and the US has made no attempt to disguise its belief that Iran was ultimately responsible. Tehran has insisted it had nothing to do with the attack.

Biden told reporters earlier this week that he held Iran responsible “in the sense that they’re supplying the weapons” to Kataib Hezbollah, the most powerful member of the Islamic Resistance group. However, the president added:

I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East. That’s not what I’m looking for.

Reporter: “Have you made a decision about how to respond to the attack [on U.S. service members in Jordan]?”

President Biden: “Yes.” pic.twitter.com/jeuWujvPAR

— The Recount (@therecount) January 30, 2024

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