DrThe US military responded to the deadly attack by pro-Iranian militias in Jordan with counterstrikes on more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria. US Regional Command (Centcom) announced on Friday (local time) that command centers, intelligence sites and weapons depots used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and its affiliated militias were subject to aerial bombardment. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 18 members of pro-Iranian militias were killed in air strikes in Syria.
US President Joe Biden immediately announced the possibility of further military action in the Middle East. “Our response begins today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing,” he said in a written statement. “The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world,” he stressed. “But for all who wish to do harm.” „With us, let them know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.”
Iraq responded to the US military strikes with sharp criticism. An Iraqi military spokesman warned that the American attacks constitute a threat that “will drag Iraq and the region into unpredictable consequences, the consequences of which will be dire for security and stability in Iraq and the region.”
Three American soldiers were killed on Sunday in a drone attack by pro-Iranian militias in Jordan near the Syrian border. A number of other soldiers were injured. Biden blamed „Iranian-backed extremist armed groups” for the attack and threatened retaliation. On Wednesday, the US government officially attributed the attack to a group called the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which had previously claimed responsibility for the attack.
It is a sort of umbrella group of pro-Iranian militias in Iraq, which have been operating together under this general name since the October 7 terrorist attacks by the Islamist Hamas movement in Israel. This includes the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah. It is one of the most powerful militias in Iraq and demands the withdrawal of American forces from the country. Northeastern Jordan, where the fatal attack on American soldiers occurred, is located on the border with Syria and Iraq.
The US government is becoming more involved in the Middle East again
Since the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas began in October, pro-Iranian militias have carried out almost daily attacks on US military bases in Iraq and Syria. The US government responded with air strikes in both countries.
In addition, the Yemeni Houthi militia – in solidarity with Hamas – repeatedly attacks cargo ships in the Red Sea. In response, the United States and Britain, with the support of allies, carried out military strikes against the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen. US air strikes have not yet deterred the militias from launching further attacks. Concerns about escalation are growing.
For US President Biden, action against militias is a balancing act. On the one hand, he wants to avoid dragging his country into a regional war in the Middle East. On the other hand, he wants to show strength and put an end to the attacks. At the same time, he is under pressure in the United States – where some Republicans are calling for more aggressive countermeasures to attacks against the US military.