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US begins strikes on militias in Iraq, Syria, retaliating for fatal drone attack

The U.S. military launched an air assault on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias Friday, in the opening salvo of retaliation for the drone strike that killed three U.S. soldiers in Jordan last weekend, officials told The Associated Press and NBC News.

President Joe Biden and other top U.S. leaders have been warning for days that the U.S. would strike back at the militias, and they made it clear that it wouldn’t be just one hit, but would be a “tiered response” over time. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations not yet made public.

The initial strikes by manned and unmannded aircraft were hitting command and control headquarters, ammunition storage and other facilities. And they came just hours after Biden and top defense leaders joined grieving families to watch as the remains of the three Army Reserve soldiers were returned to the U.S. at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

It was unclear what the next steps will be, or whether the days of U.S. warnings have sent militia members scattering into hiding, making it more difficult for the U.S. to detect and strike them. But it was evident that 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 strike back.

The U.S. strikes also appeared to stop short of directly targeting Iran or its Revolutionary Guard Quds force. Iran has denied it was behind the Jordan strike.

This is a developing story


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