The United States launched air strikes against Iranian forces and allied militias in Iraq and Syria on Friday, with President Joe Biden vowing more to come in retaliation for a deadly drone attack on a US base in Jordan. The Pentagon particularly has its sights on Kataeb Hezbollah, one of the main militias responsable for attacking US troops.
The United States blamed a January 28 drone attack on forces backed by Iran, but did not strike inside the country's territory when retaliating on Friday, with both Washington and Tehran seemingly keen to avoid an all-out war.
Attacks on US troops in the Middle East have reached an unprecedented level since the October 7 attack by Hamas in southern Israel and the ensuing war in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement.
There have been at least 165 drone strikes and rocket attacks since mid-October against the positions of US forces and those of the anti-Islamic State (IS) group coalition in Iraq and Syria. Yet no human losses had been reported until the latest attack on January 28, when a drone attack at the Tour 22 logistics base in Jordan near the Syrian border killed three American soldiers and injured 40 others.
Iran has denied it was behind the drone attack. But Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said the attack has "the footprints of Kataeb Hezbollah" – an Iran-backed militant group in Iraq which the Pentagon has blamed for previous violence.
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