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US launches airstrikes against Iran-backed militia in Iraq, Syria hits 85 targets

Iraq summons US envoy in Baghdad
02:39 AM Feb 04, 2024 IST | SURINDER SINGH OBEROI
us launches airstrikes against iran backed militia in iraq  syria hits 85 targets
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New Delhi, Feb 3: The United States strikes on 85 targets in Syria and Iraq in retaliation for the drone attack on a US military base last Sunday resulted in the loss of three soldiers and injured 40.

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The Iraqi government has reported at least 16 casualties, including civilians, and 25 others wounded due to overnight strikes carried out by the US military. Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned the US envoy in Baghdad. Iraq says that the US retaliatory strikes will bring disastrous consequences for the region.

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The United States Central Command announced on Friday that it had launched a major airstrike operation, hitting 85 targets across Iraq and Syria. The operation was aimed at the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and its allied militia groups, covering a total of seven locations.

“At 04.00 pm (EST), Feb 02, US Central Command (CENTCOM) forces conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups. US military forces struck more than 85 targets with numerous aircraft to include long-range bombers flown from the United States. The airstrike employed more than 125 precision munitions. The facilities that were struck included command and control operations centres, intelligence centres, rockets and missiles, and unarmed aerial vehicle storages, and logistics and ammunition supply chain facilities of militia groups and the IRGC sponsors who facilitated attacks against US and Coalition forces, “ The statement on X, former twitter read.

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The US utilized over 125 precision-guided munitions to strike various facilities, including command and control centres, intelligence operations, rocket and missile sites, drone storage areas, and supply chains for logistics and munitions related to the militia groups and their IRGC backers.

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US President Joe Biden linked these military actions to a recent incident in Jordan, stating, “This past Sunday, three American soldiers were killed in Jordan by a drone launched by militant groups supported by the IRGC.”

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Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that these strikes were part of a broader initiative directed by President Biden to hold the IRGC and its affiliated militias accountable for their attacks on US and Coalition forces. “These actions will occur at times and places of our choosing,” Austin declared, emphasizing the United States’ commitment to defend its forces and interests with a multi-layered response strategy.

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The operation targeted seven sites, including facilities linked to groups supported by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, aiming to diminish their military capabilities and deter attacks on US bases in the region.

John Kirby, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, mentioned that the US had informed the Iraqi government about the strikes but had not communicated with Iran following the recent attack in Jordan. Officials anticipate further actions, suggesting a broader response against Iranian-backed militias.

The airstrikes were conducted using various aircraft, including US Force B-1 bombers known for their heavy bombing capabilities. Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims highlighted the precision of the strikes and the strategic use of B-1 bombers.

The timing of the operation was chosen based on regional weather conditions, with Lt. Gen. Sims stating that Friday offered the “best opportunity” for the strikes. The decision to wait for clear weather was made to ensure accurate targeting.

The US has thus embarked on a retaliatory campaign against Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, signalling the Biden administration’s commitment to holding attackers accountable. This series of airstrikes marks the beginning of a comprehensive response, with further actions hinted at by officials.

Condemnation from Iraq, Syria and Iran

The Iraqi government has reported at least 16 casualties, including civilians, and 25 others wounded due to overnight strikes carried out by the US military. The attacks targeted Iranian-backed militias and interests, prompting a stern response from Iraqi officials who labelled it as a new aggression against the country’s sovereignty.

Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned the US envoy in Baghdad to deliver a formal memorandum of protest over the retaliatory US airstrikes launched overnight.

A government spokesman expressed deep concern, stating that the strikes have pushed Iraq and the region to the brink of the abyss. Iraq issued a warning, predicting disastrous consequences for the security and stability of both Iraq and the broader region. A spokesperson for Iraq’s prime minister declared the US strikes as a “violation” of Iraq’s sovereignty and emphasized the potential for dire repercussions on security and stability.

Bassem al-Awadi, the spokesperson for the Iraqi government, reported that the US strikes targeted locations in the Iraqi towns of Akashat and al-Qaim, including areas where Iraqi security forces are stationed.

Al-Awadi accused the United States of transforming Iraqi territory into a “battleground for settling scores,” expressing deep concern over the impact of such actions on the nation’s stability.

He emphasized the urgency for all involved parties to recognize that Iraq’s land and sovereignty should not be utilized as a stage for exchanging messages or a display of force by adversaries. The statement underscores Iraq’s commitment to maintaining its national integrity and sovereignty while urging a cessation of actions that could further escalate tensions and jeopardize the country’s stability.

Meanwhile, Syria has reacted strongly to the US strikes against Iranian forces and allied militias in both Iraq and Syria. The Syrian military condemned the American “occupation” of Syrian territory, asserting that such actions cannot continue. The statement, shared by Sana news agency, highlighted unspecified casualties and injuries, along with significant damage to private and public properties.

Iran, in response, condemned the overnight US air strikes on Iraq and Syria, characterizing them as blatant violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the two nations. Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani, in a statement, emphasized that the attacks contravened international law and the United Nations Charter. Kanaani criticized the United States, labelling the strikes as “adventurous and strategic mistakes” that would only escalate tension and instability in the region.

Moreover, the Iranian statement accused the US of indirectly supporting the goals of the “Zionist regime” and warned that such actions further involve the US government in the region.

As tensions rise following the US military strikes, the international community closely watches the evolving situation, with concerns growing over the potential consequences on regional stability.

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