American warplanes – including long range bombers based in the continental United States – blasted more than eighty-five targets in Iraq and Syria on Friday, the beginning of a sustained offensive against forces aligned with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The attacks were launched at approximately 4:00 p.m. EST on Friday – coinciding with the closing of trading on American stock indices. The attacks were also launched less than 24 hours before U.S. president Joe Biden‘s name appears on its first presidential primary election – South Carolina’s Democratic presidential preference primary.
“The airstrikes employed more than 125 precision munitions,” a statement from U.S. central command noted. “The facilities that were struck included command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicle storages, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities of militia groups and their IRGC sponsors who facilitated attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces.”
There is no immediate word on the total number of casualties to result from these strikes, although early reports indicate dozens of fatalities.
The strikes were ordered by Biden as retaliation for a drone attack that killed three U.S. troops – and wounded nearly three dozen others – in Jordan earlier this week. Biden blamed that attack on “radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq.” Iran denied involvement, issuing a statement saying it had “no connection” and “nothing to do with the attack on the U.S. base.”
Biden launched the retaliatory strike without congressional approval, even though he has previously stated presidents must obtain such approval before initiating campaigns like this one.
“We do not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world,” Biden said. “But to all those who seek to do us harm: We will respond.”
The airstrikes – the beginning of what officials say will be an ongoing campaign – mark the latest escalation of American involvement in the Middle East following an October 7, 2023 terrorist attack against Israel by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group based in the Gaza Strip. Israel responded by unleashing a wave of bombings and a ground invasion of Gaza. More than 27,000 people in Gaza have died in the ensuing conflict, while an estimated 1,140 Israelis have lost their lives.
Hamas assailed the American offensive as “a dangerous escalation, an infringement on the sovereignty of the two Arab countries, and a threat to their security and the stability of the region.”
Friday’s attack did not include targets inside Iran, but American military officials made it clear they will be leaving all options on the table moving forward.
“Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups continue to represent a direct threat to the stability of Iraq, the region, and the safety of Americans,” said general Michael Erik Kurilla, head of Centcom. “We will continue to take action, do whatever is necessary to protect our people, and hold those responsible who threaten their safety.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.
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