Live Updates: US strikes in Iraq kill at least 16 people and wound 25 others
The United States on Friday began carrying out strikes against Iran-backed militants and Iranian military targets in Iraq and Syria in response to a drone strike on a US base in Jordan last Sunday that killed three US service members.
Dozens of other American troops were injured in a drone attack on the Burj 22 base near the Jordanian borders with Iraq and Syria. The United States says Iran is responsible for financing and arming militants, while Iran denies its involvement.
President Joe Biden quickly warned that America would respond forcefully, escalating US involvement in the Middle East after months of trying to contain tensions from boiling over into a broader war in the region.
The latest developments
February 3, 6:07 AM
At least 16 killed and 25 wounded in US raids in Iraq: Iraqi government
The Iraqi government confirmed in an official statement that the American raids in Iraq resulted in the killing of at least 16 people and the injury of 25 others.
The Iraqi government said, “The American administration committed a new aggression against Iraq’s sovereignty, as the positions of our security forces in the Akashat and Al-Qaim regions and the civilian areas adjacent to them were bombed by several American aircraft.” . He added, “This blatant aggression led to the fall of 16 martyrs, including civilians, in addition to 25 wounded. It also caused losses and damage to residential buildings and citizens’ property.”
The Iraqi government also said that the strikes “will put security in Iraq and the region on the brink” and that they directly conflict with US efforts to “establish the required stability” in the region.
February 2, 10:22 p.m
Video of a B-1 bomber taking off to conduct an air strike: US Central Command
United States Central Command to publish A video clip on Friday evening showed a B-1 bomber taking off from its bases in the United States to carry out air strikes in Syria and Iraq.
He added: “The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and its affiliated militias continue to pose a direct threat to the stability of Iraq and the region and the safety of Americans. We will continue to take action and do whatever is necessary to protect our interests.” People, and hold accountable officials who threaten their safety,” General Michael Eric Kurella, commander of US Central Command, said in a statement.
The IRGC-QF and its affiliated militias remain a direct threat to the stability of Iraq and the region and the safety of Americans. We will continue to take the necessary measures, do everything necessary to protect our people, and… pic.twitter.com/Y53nvRfjjx
– US Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 3, 2024
February 2, 6:45 p.m
“We think the strikes were successful”: Kirby
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in a call on Friday that the Defense Department is in the early stages of assessing battle damage, “but we believe the strikes were successful.”
“Initial indications are that we hit exactly what we wanted to hit, with a number of secondary explosions associated with munitions and logistics sites,” Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in the phone call.
Kirby said the strikes took place within 30 minutes and used more than 125 precision-guided munitions. Of the seven total strike locations, three were in Iraq and four were in Syria, according to Sims.
Kirby said the facilities targeted included command and control centers, intelligence centers, missile and drone storage facilities, and ammunition logistics supply chain facilities.
Kirby noted that the targets were chosen to avoid civilian casualties and because they were linked to enabling attacks against U.S. service members.
The administration does not know at the present time whether or not how many militants were killed or wounded.
Officials did not tell Mary Bruce, the White House chief of ABC News, conclusively whether there would be more strikes Friday night, but said all U.S. planes were out of harm’s way.
Kirby said the strikes were expected to continue in the “coming days.”
-ABC News’ Fritz Farrow, Sarah Kolinovsky and Molly Nagel
February 2, 5:55 p.m
The Iraqi border area with Syria is targeted: the Iraqi army
The spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces said that the city of Al-Qaim on the Iraqi border with Syria, as well as other areas along the Iraqi border with Syria, “are being subjected to air strikes by American aircraft.” The armed forces said in a statement.
He added, “These strikes constitute a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, an undermining of the efforts of the Iraqi government, and a threat that will drag Iraq and the region into unexpected consequences whose results will be disastrous for security and stability in Iraq and the region.” The statement continued.
February 2, 5:40 p.m
Defense Secretary Austin: 7 facilities used by groups to attack American forces were bombed
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that US military forces, at Biden’s direction, carried out strikes on seven facilities inside Iraq and Syria “used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and its affiliated militias to attack US forces.”
“This is the beginning of our response,” Austin said in a statement. “The President has issued additional actions to hold the IRGC and its affiliated militias accountable for their attacks on US and coalition forces. These will be disclosed at times and places of our choosing.”
Like Biden, Austin emphasized that the United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East, but that attacks on American forces will not go unanswered.
He concluded: “We will take all necessary measures to defend the United States, our forces, and our interests.”
February 2, 5:39 p.m
Biden says US response will continue ‘at times and places of our choosing’
President Biden, who earlier Friday attended the dignified return of the three Army reservists killed in the drone attack in Jordan, signaled that more action would be coming.
“Our response begins today,” Biden said in his first statement regarding the strikes in Iraq and Syria.
He added, “This afternoon, at my direction, American military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and its affiliated militias are using to attack American forces.” “It will continue at times and places of our choosing.”
He concluded his speech by saying that “the United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.” “But let all who might seek to harm us know this: If you harm an American, we will strike back.”
February 2, 5:08 p.m
Experts: Biden’s retaliatory strikes come with risks of escalation and political consequences
President Biden faces a turning point in the Middle East conflict that carries significant risks of escalation and dire political consequences in an election year.
The debate inside the White House ahead of the retaliatory strikes was tense, according to a US official, as the administration weighed options that some believed would send a clear message to Iranian-backed proxy groups to stop attacks, and others feared could lead to broader fighting. In the region.
“The choices that any and every administration has faced since the Iranian revolution are fraught with danger,” Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official, told ABC News. “It’s not between good and bad policies. It’s between bad and worse policies.”
They said Biden’s decision-making process has become more complicated because of the impending election. Many Republicans, including Donald Trump, accused him of weakness in his response to Iranian-backed groups and their attacks on US forces.
“He’s in a difficult position politically because politics is going to force him to think about this and act with a scalpel,” said Jonathan Lord of the Center for a New American Security. “But since this is an election this year, and this is probably the main foreign policy issue that Republicans are lining up to press, he can’t let politics be the only consideration here. Politics, of course, plays a role.”
Read more here.
February 2, 5:20 p.m
US strikes targeted more than 85 targets, targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and militia groups: US Central Command
In a new statement, US Central Command said that US forces “carried out air strikes in Iraq and Syria against the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and its affiliated militias.”
US Central Command said, “US military forces struck more than 85 targets, with many aircraft, including long-range bombers, launched from the United States.” “The airstrikes used more than 125 precision-guided munitions. The facilities struck included command and control operations and centers, intelligence centres, missiles and missiles, unmanned aerial vehicle stores, logistics facilities and the ammunition supply chain for militia groups and the IRGC.” The sponsors who facilitated attacks against US and coalition forces.”
According to a US official, B-1 bombers were used in retaliatory strikes.
– ABC News’ Anne Flaherty
February 2, 4:56 p.m
Officials say the United States is launching retaliatory strikes in Iraq and Syria
US officials say retaliatory US air strikes have begun in Syria and Iraq.
– ABC News’ Luis Martinez
February 2, 4:09 p.m
Correction: The first round of strikes was not from the United States
Sources say the initial set of strikes in Syria did not come from the United States. US strikes are still expected.