U.S. Bombs 85 Targets in Iraq and Syria
ON 02/03/2024 AT 12 : 35 AM
The announcement of the attacks came in a written statement from the White House.
“This afternoon, at my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC [Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps] and affiliated militia use to attack US forces,” the statement with Biden's name on it read. “Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing.”
The attacks were supposedly in response to the January 28 drone strike on the U.S.’s Tower 22 airbase located in Jordan on the border with Syria. Those strikes, which killed three Americans and caused serious injuries to at least 41, were reportedly carried out by resistant fighters supported by Iran. Though little is known about the specific reasons why that airbase is attacked, it is a base which is a key part of the support system for American bases in illegally occupied Syria, which Iran believes have been the launching point for attacks on Iranian facilities in Syria and Iranian-allied groups in Iraq.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of multiple Iran-aligned groups, took responsibility for the attack on Tower 22.
News of yesterday’s American counterattacks for that action took place as Joe Biden and Jill Biden attended a memorial service held at Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base to honor the three American soldiers killed in the Tower 22 assault. The Bidens spent time with the families of each of those killed for the PR value, but did not speak publicly at the service.
According to U.S. Central Command, the U.S. airstrikes on February 2 were aimed at disabling military targets which may have been used in the past and could be used in the future to support attacks by militia and other forces tied to Tehran.
“At 4:00 p.m. (EST) Feb. 02, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups,” that message said.
“The facilities that were struck included command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicle storages, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities of militia groups and their IRGC sponsors who facilitated attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces,” CENTCOM said in a message released on the social media platform X at 4:46 PM yesterday.”
According to a statement released later in the day, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that the U.S. carried out those “strikes on seven facilities, which included more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria, that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated militias use to attack U.S. forces.”
National Security spokesperson John Kirby emphasized in his summary of what happened that the Pentagon’s airstrikes were on locations “carefully selected to avoid civilian casualties and based on clear, irrefutable evidence that they were connected to attacks on US personnel in the region.”
The Defense Department claims initial intelligence says the strikes achieved their objectives.
“The initial indications are that we hit exactly what we meant to hit with a number of secondary explosions associated with the ammunition and logistics locations,” said Lt. General Douglas Sims, the Joint Chiefs’ director of staff.
Sims also confirmed during his press briefing on the attacks that three of the strikes were in Iraq and four were on targets in Syria.
One other unusual piece of information Lt. General Sims conveyed at his conference was that these attacks, unlike all others carried out during the last several months on militia facilities and even the Houthi drone bases in Yemen during Operation Prosperity Guardian, were carried out to a significant extent using B-1 "long-range bombers", as he described them, flown directly from the United States, rather than with strikes from American or allied bases in Iraq, Syria, or other countries.
According to Sims, the bombers used in these attacks "flew a single nonstop route from the US" and were able to 'gas and go' while traveling in the air."
It is believed the U.S. did this to avoid any links to regional air bases for this set of attack, for fear those regional bases might be targeted by pro-Iranian forces or Iran itself in response to the February 2 airstrikes. The reality is that the U.S. is increasingly unwelcome throughout the region.
Considering it has been five days since Biden and the White House issued its warnings that it would launch this counterattack, there has been much speculation that the advance warning could have provided the militants responsible for the facilities bombed yesterday enough time to move out their weaponry in advance. Even the U.S. military has acknowledged its sources reported considerable movement of personnel and military supplies in the last several days, in at least some of the areas the U.S. hit in the early morning hours Friday, Middle East time.
When Lt. General Sims was asked about that, he explained that the Pentagon was waiting for good weather to carry out the airstrikes, and that yesterday was the first day where they could do that.
As to specifically where the U.S. military forces hit and what damage was caused by the February 2 counterattacks, the Iran-based Tasnim News Agency said at least one of the seven areas struck was a regional headquarters for the Hashed Shaabi militia and based in Iran’s Anbar province. That organization is part of the Iraqi government’s own military but is said by the U.S. to be aligned with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The Anbar province is also where the Kataib Hezbollah militia, a group also with ties to Iran, struck American forces at the U.S. Ain al-Asad Air Base on January 20.
After the wave of airstrikes carried out yesterday by the United States in Iraq had concluded, Iraqi military spokesperson Yahya Rasool responded once again with anger over the U.S. using its country as a battlefield without warning.
“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,” he said in a written statement.
This could create even more pressures for the Baghdad government to accelerate negotiations begun in January to radically reduce the American military presence in Iraq.
The UK Syrian Observatory for Human Rights organization tracking military attacks in the region reported that air raids deployed yesterday across a 62-mile swath (100 kilometers) hit a minimum of 26 key sites where pro-Iranian forces were based, and weapons caches were located. It said 17 of those locations were in Al-Mayadeen and Al-Bokamal near the border between Syria and Iraq, and were known locations where Iranian militias were known to be housed.
The Anti-Assad pro-Sunni NGO said in its statement that “at least 18 pro-Iran fighters” were killed during these strikes.
Syrian-owned state media spoke harshly of this new wave of “American aggression” in its country and condemned the action.
According to the White House and all others who spoke about the 85 airstrikes yesterday in Iraq and Syria, this is just the first of multiple military operations against Iranian-affiliated militia it will be carrying out within the Middle East in the near term.
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Amir Saeid Iravani, warned the United States before these airstrikes that it will “decisively respond to any attack on the country, its interests and nationals under any pretexts.”
It is expected Iran will respond more fully to what happened in Iraq and Syria yesterday in a separate statement soon, and possibly also with its own military response.
Some believe that the U.S. is trying to provoke Iran into a response that it can use to justify attacking Iran directly on behalf of fascist Israel, which has long been a Zionist goal. Israel believes that it must destroy Iran's ability to build nuclear weapons. Since it can't do that on its own it must get the U.S. to do it.
Iran poses no real threat to the U.S. but is committed to supporting the resistance against Israel's genocide of Palestinians and continued attacks on Lebanon and Syria. The American attacks in Syria and Iraq will only strengthen the determination of the resistance.
Iran has been busy strengthening alliances with some other nations that might support it in a war with Zionist forces. At this stage it probably lacks military support from China or Russia but does have their moral, economic and logistics support.