The US has sanctioned a series of strikes on Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq, following a drone attack that killed three US soldiers in Jordan, near the Syrian border. The strikes are set to occur over several days, with weather conditions influencing their timing. The US holds an Iranian-backed militia group, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, responsible for the attack. This group is thought to include several militias armed, financed, and trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards force. Iran denies involvement in the attack, which also injured 41 US troops at the military base known as Tower 22.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin defended the delayed military action, stating that the US will respond at a time and place of its choosing. The US is under pressure from Republican lawmakers to strike targets within Iran, but President Biden and other defence officials have stated that they are not seeking a wider war with Iran or increased tension in the region. The approved plans reportedly focus on Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq, rather than within Iran itself.
Iran-backed groups have intensified attacks on US and Israeli-linked entities since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7. The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have attacked ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, leading to counter-strikes from the US and its allies. Reports suggest that Iran has withdrawn senior officials from Syria following a series of Israeli airstrikes to avoid being directly involved in a broader regional conflict.
The bodies of the three US soldiers killed in the Jordan attack are due to be repatriated to a Delaware Air Force base on Friday, with President Biden set to attend. The soldiers have been identified as William Jerome Rivers, 46, Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, and Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, all members of an army reserve unit based in Fort Moore, Georgia.