The United States on Friday (local time) launched airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against more than 85 targets allegedly linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and the militias it backs, in retaliation for the drone attack in Jordan last week that killed three US troops. The attack reportedly killed 18 militants in Syria.
The massive barrage of strikes launched by the US military hit targets including command and control headquarters, intelligence centres, rockets and missiles, drone and ammunition storage sites and other facilities that were connected to the militants.
Upon launching the attack, US President Joe Biden said, "If you harm an American, we will respond."
In the first major military action by President Joe Biden's administration, US forces targeted militants in seven locations -- four facilities in Syria and three in Iraq. The strikes, which included the use of long-range B-1 bombers, killed 18 Iran-backed militants in Syria, according to a UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
President Joe Biden asserted that the US "will respond" if an American is harmed and also stated that the US's response to the Jordan attack will continue "at times and places of our choosing".
"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," Biden said in a statement.
Iran's military, meanwhile, condemned the attacks and warned that the move could ignite instability in the region. "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," Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasool said in a statement. Iran had earlier denied having any links to the Jordan attacks, stating that the militant group claiming responsibility for the attack does not take orders from Iran government.
Just minutes after Iraq's military condemned them as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, the Pentagon said that the United States informed Iraq ahead of the strikes. "We did inform the Iraqi government prior to the strikes," White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said, "This is the start of our response", as he directed additional action against the Iran-backed groups.
In the highest aggression against US troops in the Middle East since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, an Iranian militant group targeted a US army outpost in northeastern Jordan, killing three service members and injuring dozens. Joe Biden was under pressure, including from Republican Senators, to strike back at Iran-backed groups.