US strikes kill at least 18 pro-Iran fighters in Syria


US strike

LONDON: The US’s overnight air strikes on Syria killed at least 18 Iran-aligned fighters, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

US military officials have not provided an estimated death toll but have said the strikes resulted in causalities.

The US military launched airstrikes on Friday in Iraq and Syria against more than 85 targets linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and the militias, in retaliation for last weekend’s attack in Jordan that killed three US  troops.

The strikes, which included the use of long-range B-1 bombers flown from the US, are the first in a multi-tiered response by President Joe Biden’s administration to the attack by Iran-backed militants, and more US military operations are expected in the coming days.

While the US strikes did not target sites inside Iran, they signal a further escalation of the conflict in the Middle East from Israel’s more than three-month-old war with Palestinian Hamas in Gaza.

The US military said in a statement that the strikes hit targets including command and control centers, rockets, missiles and drone storage facilities, as well as logistics and munition supply chain facilities.

US forces hit more than 85 targets spanning seven locations, four in Syria and three in Iraq, said the military.

The strikes targeted the Quds Force – the foreign espionage and paramilitary arm of the IRGC that heavily influences its allied militia across the Middle East, from Lebanon to Iraq and Yemen to Syria.

Syrian state media said on Friday that an “American aggression” on sites in its desert areas and at the Syrian-Iraqi border resulted in a number of casualties and injuries.

The Iraqi military said the strikes were in the Iraqi border area and warned they could ignite instability in the region.

“These airstrikes constitute a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, undermine the efforts of the Iraqi government, and pose a threat that could lead Iraq and the region into dire consequences,” Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasool said in a statement.

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