U.S. Launches Retaliatory Strikes In Wake Of Jordan Attack, As Blinken Returns To Middle East
The U.S. military on Friday began an initial round of airstrikes on IRGC-backed groups in Syria and Iraq following an attack in Jordan last weekend that killed three American troops, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.
"Earlier today, I attended the dignified return of these brave Americans at Dover Airforce Base, and I have spoken with each of their families. This afternoon, at my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militia use to attack U.S. forces," President Joe Biden said in a statement.
"Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing," Biden added.
The White House made it clear that the U.S. does not seek conflict in the Middle East "or anywhere else in the world." "But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond," Biden noted.
The strikes are part of an operation that several U.S. officials suggested would involve a tiered response. "This is the start of our response. The President has directed additional actions to hold the IRGC and affiliated militias accountable for their attacks on U.S. and Coalition Forces. These will unfold at times and places of our choosing" Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin said in a separate statement.
The move also comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to fly out Sunday for his fifth visit to the war-wracked Middle East region since Oct. 7. Blinken will “continue diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement that secures the release of all remaining hostages,” according to the State Department.
The U.S' top diplomat also will be working to secure a “humanitarian pause” in Israel’s war on Gaza to increase aid to Palestinian civilians — and to eventually nail an overall peace agreement, the statement said.
“He will continue to work to prevent the spread of the conflict, while reaffirming that the United States will take appropriate steps to defend its personnel and the right to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea,” spokesman Matthew Miller added.