At least 18 die during White House strikes on Syria to avenge deaths of three US soldiers, as 125 missiles were droped

At least 18 people were killed in US missile strikes on Syria, after the White House bombed targets there and in Iraq to avenge the killings of three US soldiers.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said those killed were members of ‘Iran-backed groups’, after four sites in Syria were targeted. There have been no updates on Iraqi death totals.

The Pentagon unleashed its first wave of bombs on Iranian-backed militias on Friday because clear skies provided an accurate target, with 85 targets being hit in Iraq and Syria during a 30-minute strike.

Seven separate facilities – four in Syria and three in Iraq – were hit by the B1 bombers, which flew directly from the United States and refueled in the air.

Iraq was forewarned, says John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, but Iran – which supports and arms the militias – was not.

Douglas Sims, the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the strikes were ordered because the weather was in their favor.

The bombs can be dropped when there is cloud cover, but the US waited until the skies were clear in an interest to ensure we hit all the right targets,’ Sims said.

Explosions are seen in the Iraqi city of Al-Qaim: the site is believed to be a weapons depot for al Hashed al Shabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU)

Explosions are seen in the Iraqi city of Al-Qaim: the site is believed to be a weapons depot for al Hashed al Shabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU)

A plane is seen taking off in a video on X shared by CENTCOM - US Central Command

A plane is seen taking off in a video on X shared by CENTCOM – US Central Command

He said the US wanted to avoid “unnecessary casualties” – but they did expect militants in the seven facilities to have died.

Footage shared on social media showed a series of explosions in the city of Al-Qaim: the first explosions from the US bombs, and then the secondary explosions from the munitions that exploded.

The mayor of Al-Qaim, Turki Al-Mahalawi, said the strikes hit three houses used as weapons warehouses by the PMU – al Hashed al Shabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).

The PMU is backed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Washington believes it is responsible for many of the 165 attacks launched on US sites and personnel in the region since October 7.

Two B-1 bombers flew from the US for the mission that hit seven facilities - three in Iraq and four in Syria - linked to the IRGC and Iran-backed militias

Two B-1 bombers flew from the US for the mission that hit seven facilities – three in Iraq and four in Syria – linked to the IRGC and Iran-backed militias

Sgt.  William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Georgia was killed in the drone attack on a US air base in Jordan

Kennedy Ladon Sanders (24) was one of three American soldiers killed in the drone strike

Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Georgia (left) and Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, were killed in the drone attack on a US air base in Jordan

Specialist Breonna Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Georgia, has been identified as one of the soldiers killed in the weekend drone strike

Specialist Breonna Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Georgia has been identified as one of the soldiers killed in the drone strike

Yahya Rasool, spokesman for Iraq’s Armed Forces, said the strikes were a ‘violation of Iraqi sovereignty’.

“The city of Al-Qaim and the Iraqi border areas are being subjected to airstrikes by US aircraft, at a time when Iraq is striving hard to ensure the stability of the region,” Rasool said, according to CNN.

“These strikes are considered a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and undermine the efforts of the Iraqi government, which pose a threat that could drag Iraq and the region into undesirable consequences, the outcomes of which will be severe for the security and stability in Iraq and the region.”

The US has not commented on the targets.

Mick Mulroy, a former Pentagon official in the Trump administration, said The New York Times that the US strikes appeared to be focused on Iranian supply lines, which pass through Iraq and Syria.

Mulroy said he believed it was unlikely that many Iranian soldiers would have been killed because Iran had time to move its personnel out of the way — likely a deliberate move by the U.S. to avoid unnecessary escalation.

The New York Times reported that a site in the Iraqi city of Akashat was also hit, describing the target as a command headquarters of the PMU.

The PMU is just part of a coalition of Iran-backed groups that call themselves the ‘Axis of Resistance’, and claim to be attacking US targets in response to Washington’s support for Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The US has launched a devastating wave of airstrikes against Iran's Revolutionary Guard in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for the drone strike that killed three US troops.

The US has launched a devastating wave of airstrikes against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for the drone strike that killed three US troops.

Analysts say Tehran is taking advantage of the chaos, and warn that the US must tread a fine line between responding to the deaths of the three soldiers and going to war with Iran.

Joe Biden said on Friday that the airstrikes were just the beginning.

“This past Sunday, three American soldiers were killed in Jordan by a drone launched by militant groups backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),” he said.

“I attended the dignified return of these brave Americans at Dover Air Force Base earlier today, and I spoke with each of their families.

“This afternoon, at my direction, US military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militias use to attack US forces. Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing.

“The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world. But let everyone who might try to harm us know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.’

Sims said the US was “really confident” in the accuracy of its strikes, and said they were a success.

The operation was over in 30 minutes.

“Initial indications are that we hit exactly what we intended to hit, with a number of secondary explosions associated with the munitions and logistics locations,” he said.

“We know there are militants using these locations.

“We made these strikes tonight with an idea that there would likely be casualties related to people inside those facilities.”

Senator Jack Reed, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he endorsed the strikes.

“It was a strong, proportionate response,” said Reed, a Democrat who represents Rhode Island.

“In fact, the 85 targets hit tonight is a higher number than the previous administration. Iran’s proxy forces in Syria and Iraq have been dealt a significant blow, and Iranian-linked militias around the Middle East should understand that they will also be held accountable.’