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Missiles in desert. What is known about overnight US airstrike on Iraq and Syria?


MOSCOW, February 3. /TASS/. The US armed forces carried out a series of airstrikes overnight on the positions of pro-Iranian groups in a number of border regions of Iraq and Syria in response to the January 27 attack on the US military in Jordan.

The Biden administration said that it had successfully hit more than 85 targets and intended to continue bombing in response to threats to Americans. Opposition figures in Washington, however, point to the futility of the strikes and the danger of further escalation in the region.

Targets of strike

According to the US Central Command (CENTCOM), at midnight Moscow time (9:00 p.m. GMT), airstrikes were carried out in Iraq and Syria, targeting the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC, elite units of the Iranian armed forces)and related groups: "US military forces struck more than 85 targets."

Among the shelled targets were command and control centers, intelligence centers, and warehouses with drones, and "more than 125 precision munitions" were used in the airstrikes.

According to US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, the operation involved multiple aircraft, including B-1 strategic bombers flown in from the United States.

What is known about casualties, damage

The Al Hadath TV channel reported, citing a source in the Iraqi security services, that US aircraft carried out eight strikes on positions of pro-Iranian armed groups near the village of Al-Qa'im in western Iraq, near the border with Syria.

Qatar's Al-Jazeera, in turn, reported a series of strikes on paramilitary group facilities in Syria's desert region of Mayadin and east of the town of Abu Kamal near the border with Iraq. The US strikes killed at least 10 people and wounded about 20.

The Al Hadath TV channel also reported that at least 18 people were killed in US airstrikes on areas where pro-Iranian armed groups are concentrated in eastern Syria.

The Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted Iraqi sources as saying that among the targets hit by US strikes on Iraqi territory were the headquarters of unnamed armed groups and a small arms depot near the town of Al-Qa'im.

The SANA news agency reported, citing the Syrian Defense Ministry, that civilians and military personnel have become victims of US airstrikes. According to the news agency, the airstrikes resulted in the deaths of "a number of civilians and soldiers, injuries, and caused significant damage to public and private property." The Syrian Defense Ministry pointed out that the US strikes "have no justification and are an attempt to weaken the capabilities of the Syrian army and its allies in the fight against terrorism."

Washington to continue

The Washington administration intends to take further retaliatory measures in response to the attack on US forces in Jordan, according to a written statement released by US President Biden.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin added that new strikes will be carried out "at a time and place of our choosing."

Kirby said that the strikes on Iraqi and Syrian territory were successful, although he did not have exact data on the damage caused: "These targets were chosen to degrade and disrupt the capabilities of the IRGC and the groups that they sponsor and support." Washington has informed the Iraqi government of the impending strikes, but has not contacted Iran on the matter.

Lieutenant General Douglas Sims, the Director of the Joint Staff, said that the strikes on these sites should go a long way toward "degrading capability" of the IRGC and its affiliated groups.

The commander of the US Armed Forces Central Command, General Michael E. Kurilla, said that the IRGC's Quds Force and affiliated groups continue to pose a direct threat to the stability of Iraq, the region and the security of Americans.

Reaction in Middle East

The US Air Force's bombing of Iraq's border areas is a violation of the country's sovereignty and will have unintended consequences for Iraq's security and stability throughout the region, Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi armed forces, said.

Lebanon's Al Mayadeen TV channel reported that a missile strike was launched early in the morning on Saturday against a US military base near the Koniko gas field in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor Governorate.

For his part, General Douglas Sims said that the United States has not yet recorded any operations against its troops and interests in the Middle East in response to the strikes in Iraq and Syria: "I’m not tracking any retaliation in eastern Syria right now."

What was reason behind US airstrike?

The US government previously said that American servicemen were attacked by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq movement on January 28 at a site in Jordan near the Syrian border. The Pentagon said that the attack killed three soldiers and wounded more than 40. The US blames Iran, among others, for the incident.

Since tensions escalated in the Middle East, rocket and drone attacks on US military bases in Iraq and Syria have become more frequent. Shiite militias have warned that they will increase the number of armed operations in these Arab countries if the US continues to provide military aid to Israel.