US attacks Syria and Iraq after attack kills three soldiers

US attacks Syria and Iraq after attack kills three soldiers

The US launched airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Iraq in retaliation for a drone strike that killed three US soldiers last week.marking a new escalation in a conflict that erupted with the attack by Hamas militants on Israel almost four months ago.

The United States attacked several targets in both countries, according to an official who asked not to be identified ahead of a formal announcement. President Joe Biden approved the attacks.

Airstrikes had been considered almost inevitable after the January 28 drone attack on a US base on the Jordanian border with Syria and Iraq, in which three Army reservists died in their homes and more than 30 service members were injured. After the attack, Biden came under intense pressure to strike Iran, even as it sought to avoid a clash with a key regional adversary and risk a broader war.

Early indications suggested that Biden chose not to strike targets inside Iran, a move that would almost certainly have sparked a counterattack and risked war with a key regional adversary. US officials had previously warned of a “multi-level” response and said the initial response to the drone attack would not be the last word.

Friday night’s attacks marked a new escalation in a conflict that erupted with the attack by Hamas militants against Israel and the subsequent military campaign by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip. The United States has become increasingly involved in the conflict, launching repeated attacks to defend American troops in Syria and Iraq who have been attacked dozens of times.and attacking Iranian-backed Houthi militants who have attacked commercial ships in the Red Sea, a vital waterway for trade.

Earlier Friday, Biden was accompanied by relatives of the three slain Americans for the return of their remains to American soil. Biden, First Lady Jill Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin watched the unloading of three flag-draped coffins at the Air Force Base of Dover, Delaware.

The United States blamed last week’s deadly attack on an Iran-backed group known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq. That group is part of what is known as the Axis of Resistance, a network of anti-Israel and anti-American militants in the region that encompasses groups in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, as well as Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It also includes the militant group Kata’ib Hezbollah, which said earlier this week it was pausing military operations in Iraq after pressure from the Iraqi government.

Like the United States, Iranian officials have tried to balance promises of retaliation with assurances that they do not seek a broader conflict. Earlier in the week, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said the country was not seeking confrontation with the United States but “is not afraid of war.”

And Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Amir Saeid Iravani, said: “If any party attacks Iran’s territory, or its interests or citizens abroad, it will receive a decisive response” according to state media.