US launches retaliatory strikes on Iraq, Syria

Henry

The United States launched several airstrikes last night against Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria.

The attacks – three of them in Iraq and four in Syria – are apparently retaliation for last weekend’s drone attack that claimed the lives of three American troops at an outpost on the border of Jordan and Syria.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Saturday that US warplanes struck “more than 85 targets at seven facilities used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the militant groups they sponsor”.

“These targets were carefully selected to avoid civilian casualties,” Kirby added.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said the airstrikes were just the beginning. “Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing,” the president said in a statement.

According to the National Security Council, Washington did notify the Iraqi government in advance that attacks would be launched.

However, a spokesperson for the Iraqi government says this is an “unfounded claim made to mislead international public opinion”.

Bassem al-Awadi, spokesman for the Iraqi government, also disagrees with the statement that civilian deaths were avoided during the US airstrikes since the 16 deaths in western Iraq include civilians.

The Syrian army also said “a number of civilians and soldiers” were killed in the attacks in eastern Syria, but according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, no civilian deaths were reported.

This information office, which is based in Britain, did say that the attacks claimed the lives of 23 pro-Iran fighters.

‘Attacks will only fuel conflict’

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday that Friday night’s US airstrikes will inflame the ongoing conflict in the Middle East “in an extremely dangerous way”.

The spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kanani, for his part labeled the attacks as “another strategic mistake by the US government which will have no other consequence than the aggravation of tension and instability”.

The Palestinian terror group Hamas, whose attack on Israel sparked the current spiral of violence in the region, accused Washington of “adding fuel to the fire”.

Analysts now say the US strikes are unlikely to halt the spate of attacks on US targets around the Middle East.

The US airstrikes represent a “significant escalation”, according to Allison McManus, managing director for national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress.

RNews earlier reported that three American troops were killed and 34 wounded last weekend in a drone attack at an outpost on the border of Jordan and Syria.

The attacks were presumably carried out as a result of the Americans’ continued support for Israel in its war against Hamas.