The U.S. retaliated against Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria on Friday, striking more than 85 targets in response to the killing of three American soldiers in Jordan last weekend. Their deaths marked a major escalation of tensions in the region and the first time U.S. troops have been killed by enemy fire there since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war in October.
The operation appears to be the beginning of a multi-day campaign focused on targets close to Iran, The Washington Post reported. Friday’s airstrikes began at 4 p.m. ET and used more than 125 precision munitions, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
“The facilities that were struck included command and control operations, centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aired vehicle storages, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities of militia groups and their [Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps] sponsors who facilitated attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces,” CENTCOM said.
The U.S.’ strikes indicate a “significant escalation in Washington’s bid to deter the growing threat from Iran-backed groups across the Middle East,” NBC News reported, as President Joe Biden tries to contain the Gaza crisis from spilling over into a regional conflict.
“The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world,” Biden said in a statement Friday. “But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.”