US kills 34 ‘Iran-backed’ militants in ‘a taste of what’s to come’: Pictures show aftermath of Biden’s revenge strike that saw B1 bombers drop 125 missiles on 85 targets in Syria and Iraq in just 30 minutes
Photos have emerged showing the aftermath of Biden’s revenge attack, which saw US bombers strike 85 targets in Iraq and Syria.
The Iraqi headquarters of the militia Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the People’s Mobilization Committee, can be seen in ruins after the attacks.
Other images show buildings reduced to rubble after 125 bombs were dropped in 30 minutes.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin suggested that this targeted retaliation was just the beginning.
President Biden echoed this sentiment, saying that the overnight strikes were just the beginning.
A view of destruction after US warplanes carried out an airstrike on the headquarters of Hashd al-Shaabi in Al-Ka’im city of Anbar, Iraq on February 3, 2024
The Pentagon unleashed a volley of missiles on Iranian-backed militias on Friday night, with the ruins of a building in Iraq seen here
A destroyed building is pictured at the site of a US airstrike in Al-Qaim, Iraq, February 3, 2024
The strikes on Friday came in response to a deadly drone strike that killed three US soldiers last Sunday.
Syria warned that the attacks ‘fueled the conflict in the Middle East in a very dangerous way’.
The Iraqi government confirmed that the attacks killed 16 people, including civilians, and claimed the US government did not inform them of their plan to strike.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 18 people were killed in the attacks on Syria.
Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and Iraq war veteran, recounts CNN: ‘I think it’s a very strong deterrent. We say: Listen, we don’t want to go to war. But get a little taste of what we can do.
‘Here you go. Eighty-five targets. And I think that’s part of the balancing act we have to deal with now.’
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said the overnight operation was “another strategic mistake by the US government, which will have no other result than intensifying tensions and instability.”
With tensions high in the face of the Israel-Hamas war, both Damascus and Baghdad have joined Tehran in accusing Washington of undermining the stability of the region.
All eyes are now on Tehran and their pending decision on whether to respond to the attack, or try to de-escalate the situation.
Hamas, whose unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel sparked the current spiral of violence in the region, accused Washington of adding ‘fuel to the fire’.
US-Iraqi relations have soured in recent months after Washington carried out previous airstrikes on Iran-backed groups in Iraq in response to a wave of attacks on US-led troops since the Gaza war began last October.
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.
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
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.
The United States has about 900 troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq as part of an international coalition against the Islamic State group, a jihadist organization that once controlled parts of both countries.
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.”
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said US warplanes struck “more than 85 targets at seven facilities used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the militant groups they sponsor”, three of them in Iraq and four in Syria .
In a statement, President Biden said: ‘Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing.’
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 (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 drone strike
Mick Mulroy, a former Pentagon official in the Trump administration, told 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.
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.
The bodies of three fallen US soldiers were returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware
Sims said the US was “really confident” in the accuracy of its strikes, and said they were a success.
He said: 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. We know that 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.’