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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff & Agencies

Drone strike in Jordan claims lives of three US servicemembers; President Biden orders immediate response

WASHINGTON — In a swift and decisive move, the U.S. military conducted a series of airstrikes on multiple sites in Iraq and Syria linked to Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. This action comes in retaliation for a recent drone strike in Jordan that resulted in the tragic loss of three U.S. servicemembers.

President Joe Biden, along with top U.S. leaders, had issued warnings in the days leading up to the airstrikes, emphasizing that the response would be more than a singular strike, indicating a “tiered response” over time.

“This afternoon, at my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militia use to attack U.S. forces,” stated President Biden in an official statement. “Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing.”

The extensive barrage of strikes targeted over 85 locations across seven sites, including command and control headquarters, intelligence centers, rockets and missiles, drone and ammunition storage sites, and other facilities connected to the militias or the IRGC’s Quds Force. This force is responsible for handling Tehran’s relationships and arming regional militias.

The U.S. Central Command reported that the airstrikes utilized more than 125 precision munitions, delivered by various aircraft, including long-range bombers flown from the United States. B-1 bombers were among the aircraft used, according to an anonymous official familiar with the operation.

Sources within Iraq reported that three houses used as headquarters were targeted in al-Qaim, including a weapons storage area. An operations headquarters of the Popular Mobilization Forces, a coalition of Iranian-backed militias, in Akashat, Iraq, and weapons stores were also among the targets.

The retaliatory strikes occurred just hours after President Biden and top defense leaders joined grieving families to witness the return of the remains of the three Army Reserve soldiers at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

While the immediate next steps remain unclear, the U.S. administration’s persistent warnings appear to have had little impact on the recent statement by Kataeb Hezbollah, a major Iran-backed militia, which claimed to suspend attacks on American troops. The U.S. strikes stopped short of directly targeting Iran or senior leaders of the Revolutionary Guard Quds Force within Iranian borders, reflecting an effort to prevent further escalation. Iran has consistently denied involvement in the Jordan attack.

On Friday morning, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi reiterated Tehran’s willingness to potentially retaliate for any U.S. strikes targeting its interests, stating, “We will not start a war, but if a country, if a cruel force wants to bully us, the Islamic Republic of Iran will give a strong response.”

Despite a recent statement by Kataib Hezbollah announcing the suspension of military and security operations against occupation forces, another major Iran-backed group, Harakat al-Nujaba, pledged to continue military operations against U.S. troops.

The U.S. has held the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a broad coalition of Iran-backed militias, responsible for the deadly attack in Jordan, with Kataeb Hezbollah as a prime suspect. The militias, which have posed a threat to U.S. bases for years, intensified their assaults following Israel’s war with Hamas, further escalating tensions in the region.

As of Tuesday, Iran-backed militia groups had launched 166 attacks on U.S. military installations since October 18, with 67 in Iraq, 98 in Syria, and one in Jordan. The recent attack on Tower 22, a Jordan outpost, and the resulting deaths of three servicemembers marked a significant escalation, leading to the latest retaliatory strikes.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin acknowledged the gravity of the situation, stating, “This is a dangerous moment in the Middle East. We will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our interests, and our people. And we will respond when we choose, where we choose, and how we choose.”

The U.S. Treasury imposed new sanctions on a network of firms in Iran and Hong Kong, accusing them of assisting Iran in procuring technology for ballistic weapons and drones. Additionally, six Iranian officials were sanctioned for allegedly committing malicious cyber activities against critical infrastructure in the U.S. and other nations.

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