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EU considers situation in Middle East critical after US strikes — foreign policy chief

It calls for de-escalation

BRUSSELS, February 3. /TASS/. The European Union assesses the situation in the Middle East as critical after the US strikes on Syria and Iraq, fears it will get out of control and calls for de-escalation, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said upon arrival at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers.

"We have been repeating once and again that the Middle East is a boiler that can explode," Borrel told reporters. "We call [on] everybody to try to avoid an escalation. We are living in a critical situation in the Middle East, in the entire region," he emphasized. The top EU diplomat pointed out that he did not know the position of the EU states’ ministers and did not expect any concrete decisions on Saturday, as the meeting in Brussels is informal.

The US has launched four series of strikes on positions of pro-Iranian militias deployed in Syria's Deir Ezzor Governorate. The paramilitary groups' facilities in the desert region of Mayadin and east of the town of Abu Kamal near the border with Iraq were bombed. The US Air Force also struck positions of pro-Iranian armed groups near the village of Al-Qa'im in western Iraq, near the border with Syria. The US Central Command said that the airstrikes, which hit more than 85 targets, targeted the the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC, elite units of the Iranian armed forces) and related groups.

The Al Hadath TV channel reported that at least 18 members of the pro-Iranian armed groups were killed when the US Air Force bombed their positions in eastern Syria. According to the TV channel, at least six people were killed in Iraq as a result of the US strikes. All those killed in Iraq were members of a Shiite militia.