‘If you harm an American, we will respond’: Biden warns militias in the Middle East and says the next strikes will be at a ‘time and place of our choosing’ after hitting 85 targets with 125 bombs in Iraq and Syria

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Pentagon launched devastating military operation in the Middle East on Friday 
  • Two bombers flew from the U.S. to hit sites linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard 
  • Strikes began after Biden attended dignified transfer for the three troops killed  

President Joe Biden has addressed the U.S. military strikes that pummeled militia targets inside Iraq and Syria – indicating more displays of military might were on the way.

The president began by referencing his attendance at the dignified transfer ceremony for three U.S. troops killed in the drone attack in Jordan, then only briefly described the complex air assault the U.S. had orchestrated days later in response. 

‘Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing,’ Biden said, in just the latest instance of language telegraphic a sustained response.

The White House sent out the statement while the president was at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, after attending the ceremony at Dover Air Force Base. 

‘Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing,’ President Joe Biden said in a written statement after the U.S. unleashed strikes on militia targets in Iraq and Syria

‘This past Sunday, three American soldiers were killed in Jordan by a drone launched by militant groups backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Earlier today, I attended the dignified return of these brave Americans at Dover Airforce Base, and I have spoken with each of their families,’ Biden began.

‘This afternoon, at my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militia use to attack U.S. forces,’ he said.

Amid concerns about the expansion of a wider war and warnings by Tehran, Biden said that ‘The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world. But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.’

Lt. Gen. Arthur Sims, director for operations for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, told reporters on a national security call Friday evening that the U.S. hit 85 targets, relying on B-1 aircraft sent from within the continental United States. 

‘This was designed around the weather when we had our best opportunity related to the weather.’

Lt. Gen. Arthur Sims, director for operations for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, told reporters on a national security call Friday evening that the U.S. hit 85 targets

Lt. Gen. Arthur Sims, director for operations for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, told reporters on a national security call Friday evening that the U.S. hit 85 targets

‘We made these strikes tonight with the idea that there would likely be casualties with people located inside those facilities,’ he said.

He said targets would ‘impact their ability to conduct future strikes against Americans.’ 

National security spokesman John Kirby said Biden was kept informed about the operation throughout the afternoon.

Kirby said targets were ‘carefully selected to avoid civilian casualties.’

He said there was ‘clear irrefutable evidence that [the targets] were connected to attacks.’

The targets ‘were carefully chosen as facilities that we knew were involved and used by the IRGC and these militant groups in attacks against U.S. personnel,’ he said. 

There have been ‘no communications’ with Iran since the drone attack in Jordan, he said, although the White House is clearly hoping the strikes will not draw an escalation from Tehran. 

‘We do not seek a target with Iran,’ Kirby said, when asked why targets inside Iran weren’t selected. Instead, the targets backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps outside of Iran were selected. 

Kirby cited the weather and other factors for why the strikes were carried out Friday,. ‘It had no connection – none whatsoever – with the timing of the dignified transfer today at Dover Air Force Base,’ he said.

‘The attacks have got to stop,’ Kirby said, when in reference to repeated attacks on U.S. troops and interests overseas since Israel began its war against Hamas. ‘These responses began tonight. They’re not going to end tonight.’

The comments from the White House and the military came after the U.S. launched a devastating wave of airstrikes on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for the drone strike that killed three U.S. troops. 

Multiple long-range bombers and drones hit 85 targets with 125 bombs in the widespread military operation on Friday night.

Two two B-1- bombers flew from the U.S. for the mission hitting multiple targets linked to the IRGC and Iran-backed militias, including command and intelligence centers and areas where rockets, missiles and drones were stored.

The huge operation is the first from the U.S. striking back after Iran-backed militias’ deadly strike on the Tower 22 base near Jordan’s border with Syria and Iraq last Sunday.

Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, and Specialist Breonna Moffett, 23, were killed and dozens of troops were injured in the attack that sparked further tensions in the Middle East. 

President Joe Biden ordered the strikes just hours after he attended the dignified transfer ceremony for their remains at Dover Air Force Base. 

Biden mentioned attending the dignified transfer of the remains of Army Reserve Sergeants William Rivers, Kennedy Sanders and Breonna Moffett, three U.S. service members who were killed in Jordan during a drone attack

Biden mentioned attending the dignified transfer of the remains of Army Reserve Sergeants William Rivers, Kennedy Sanders and Breonna Moffett, three U.S. service members who were killed in Jordan during a drone attack 

Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Georgia died in the drone strike of a US airbase in Jordan

Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, was among three US soldiers killed in the drone strike

Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Georgia  (left) and Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, died in the drone strike of a US airbase in Jordan

He held his hand over his heart as he watched their flag-draped coffins being carried across the tarmac after arriving back on home soil.

A short time after the solemn ceremony finished, he authorized the huge response he has threatened for days. 

‘This past Sunday, three American soldiers were killed in Jordan by a drone launched by militant groups backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC),’ Biden said on Friday. 

‘Earlier today, I attended the dignified return of these brave Americans at Dover Airforce Base, and I have spoken with each of their families. 

‘This afternoon, at my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militia use to attack U.S. 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 all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.’

It’s unclear what the next steps will be or when they will take place, or whether the days of U.S. warnings have sent militia members scattering into hiding.

But the recent statement released by Kataeb Hezbollah, one of the main Iran-backed militias, saying it was suspending attacks on American troops had no impact on the administration’s plans to retaliate. 

National Security Council John Kirby said the response to the deadly drone strike will be ‘tiered’ and could ‘potentially include multiple actions over a period of time.’

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

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

The strikes come almost a week after the strike by Iran-backed militias on the Tower 22 base near Jordan's border with Syria and Iraq

The strikes come almost a week after the strike by Iran-backed militias on the Tower 22 base near Jordan’s border with Syria and Iraq

‘At 4:00 p.m. (EST) Feb. 02, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups,’ U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

‘U.S. military forces struck more than 85 targets, with numerous aircraft to include long-range bombers flown from United States. 

‘The airstrikes employed more than 125 precision munitions. 

‘The facilities that were struck included command and control operations, centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aired 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.’

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