Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

U.S. and U.K. launch new wave of strikes, this time targeting Houthis in Yemen

By 37ci3 Feb3,2024

‘We will meet escalation with escalation,’ Houthi member says after latest U.S. and U.K. airstrikes

The Houthis will “meet escalation with escalation” after the U.S. and U.K. airstrikes on Yemen, according to Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi’s Ansar Allah political bureau.

“Our military operations against the Zionist entity will continue until the aggression against Gaza stops, no matter what sacrifices it costs us,” Al-Bukhaiti said on X. “We will meet escalation with escalation, and victory comes only from God.”

Who are the Houthi rebels?

DOHA, Qatar — Battle-hardened and backed by Iran, Yemen’s Houthi rebels have launched a series of attacks on Israel as well as commercial ships in the Red Sea, stoking fears of a wider conflict in the region already reeling from the war in Gaza and on tenterhooks about escalating violence between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.

After declaring support last year for Hamas in its fight against Israel, they have bombarded ships in the Red Sea. They fired 21 drones and missiles on Jan. 9, their biggest attack yet according to British officials, ignoring a United Nations resolution and ultimatums by the U.S. and its Western allies to stop.

A large clan originating from Yemen’s northwestern Saada province, the Houthis are an extremist movement that follows Zaydism, a branch of Shiite Islam. Yemen was ruled by a Zaydi imamate for 1,000 years, until it was overthrown in 1962. Stripped of their political power since then, the Zaydis struggled to restore their influence in the country.

Formally known as Ansar Allah — or “Partisans of God” — their name comes from Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi, their former leader. He led an uprising in 2004 aimed at winning greater autonomy for Yemen’s provinces and protecting them from the perceived encroachment of Sunni Islam, according to the Wilson Center, a Washington-based think tank.

After the Arab Spring protests erupted in several countries in 2011, the group took control of the province of Saada. Three years later, its fighters swept into the capital, Sanaa, and forced President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government into exile.

Neighboring Saudi Arabia, unwilling to accept the prospect of Yemen being controlled by a militant organization backed by its regional rival, Iran, responded by starting a war against the group.

But despite support from the U.S., Britain and several other nations, who armed the Saudis with fighter jets and bombs, and provided them with military expertise, the conflict lasted far longer than expected and proved costly for Riyadh.

Read more here.

U.S. and U.K. launch airstrikes targeting Houthis in Yemen

The U.S. and U.K. launched airstrikes today targeting the Houthis in Yemen, a U.S. official confirmed to NBC News.

The airstrikes hit at least 30 targets in at least 10 locations, according to the officials. More than two dozen aircraft launched off of the USS Eisenhower, some carrying 2,000 pound bombs and sidewinder air to air missiles, as well as other precision guided missiles.

Missiles were also launched from the USS Gravely and USS Carney.

Today’s strikes follow Friday’s attack on 85 sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian forces and Iran-backed militantsthe U.S.’ first retaliatory response for the killing of three American soldiers in Jordan last weekend.

23 people killed in American airstrikes on eastern Syria, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says

A total of 23 people, including nine Syrians, were killed in American airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia positions in Deir Ez-Zor governate in Syria yesterday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Thirteen people were killed in Al-Mayadeen city and 10 were killed in the countryside of Deir Ez-Zor, the U.K.-based organization said.

WHO Director-General ‘horrified’ by killing of civilians and aid workers in Khan Younis

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he is “horrified” by the killing of civilians and aid workers in Khan Younis.

“Horrified by the reports about killing of civilians, including @PalestineRCS staff, at the Al Amal hospital compound today and in the past two days in Khan Younis, #Gaza,” Tedros wrote on X.

The director-general emphasized that hospitals must be protected and reiterated calls for a cease-fire in Gaza.

CENTCOM: U.S. forces conduct self-defense strikes against 6 Houthi anti-ship missiles prepared to launch in Red Sea

U.S. Central Command said its forces have conducted self-defense strikes against six Houthi anti-ship missiles prepared to launch in the Red Sea.

The forces determined that the cruise missiles in “Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen” “presented an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region,” CENTCOM said on X.

This attack is part of the self-defensive strikes from CENTCOM forces in the Red Sea region, not the larger U.S. retaliatory strikes that occurred on Friday in response to the deaths of three American soldiers.

Hamas shows signs of resurgence in parts of Gaza where Israeli troops largely withdrew weeks ago

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Hamas has begun to resurface in areas where Israel withdrew the bulk of its forces a month ago, deploying police officers and making partial salary payments to some of its civil servants in Gaza City in recent days, four residents and a senior official in the militant group said Saturday.

Signs of a Hamas resurgence in Gaza’s largest city underscore the group’s resilience despite Israel’s deadly air and ground campaign over the past four months. Israel has said it’s determined to crush Hamas and prevent it from returning to power in Gaza, an enclave it has ruled since 2007.

In recent days, Israeli forces renewed strikes in the western and northwestern parts of Gaza City, including in areas where some of the salary distributions were reported to have taken place.

Four Gaza City residents told The Associated Press that in recent days, uniformed and plainclothes police officers deployed near police headquarters and other government offices, including near Shifa Hospital, the territory’s largest. The residents said they saw the return of civil servants and subsequent Israeli airstrikes near the makeshift offices.

The return of police marks an attempt to reinstate order in the devastated city after Israel withdrew a significant number of troops from northern Gaza last month, a Hamas official told AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The official said the group’s leaders had given directions to re-establish order in parts of the north where Israeli forces had withdrawn, including by helping prevent the looting of shops and houses abandoned by residents who had heeded repeated Israeli evacuation orders and headed to the southern half of Gaza.

House will vote next week on stand-alone Israel aid bill, Speaker Johnson tells colleagues

WASHINGTON — Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., told Republicans on Saturday that the House will vote next week on a stand-alone bill to provide aid to Israel, with no offsetting spending cuts.

Johnson made the announcement in an afternoon letter to colleagues while criticizing the impending Senate legislation that would pair Israel aid with funding for Ukraine and a package of tougher border security and asylum laws.

“While the Senate appears poised to finally release text of their supplemental package after months of behind closed doors negotiations, their leadership is aware that by failing to include the House in their negotiations, they have eliminated the ability for swift consideration of any legislation,” Johnson wrote, adding that the House “will have to work its will on these issues and our priorities will need to be addressed.”

Johnson blasted the Senate for what he called its “failure to move appropriate legislation in a timely fashion,” arguing the House needs to act in the absence of leadership from the upper chamber amid “the perilous circumstances currently facing Israel.”

Read the full story here.

With U.S. strikes in Iraq and Syria, Biden sends Iran a signal of deterrence — and restraint

ERBIL, Iraq — The dozens of airstrikes launched by the United States late Friday are by far its biggest attacks against Iran-backed militants in the Middle East during this current round of conflict.

However the strikes in Iraq and Syria, an initial retaliation for the killing of three American soldiers, did not go as far as some more hawkish figures had hoped, as the White House tries to avoid an all-out war with Iran. Some regional watchers have warned that this apparent restraint — including telegraphing the attacks well in advance — may mean the militias feel emboldened to continue their violence against American forces in the region.

The bombings drew an angry reaction from Iraq itself, which summoned the U.S. envoy in protest and said the strikes on its soil had killed civilians and risked destabilizing the region. Syria said the U.S. was fueling regional conflict in “a very dangerous way.” Iranian officials have been similarly hostile, and Tehran, though also reluctant to see a wider war, has warned American strikes would not go unanswered.

“What you saw last night and what you are going to see again was not insignificant,” a senior Biden administration official told NBC News. “When you hit 85 targets over 30 minutes, that sends a strong signal about the capability that we have,” the official said, adding that “there are other things we’re going to do. Some you will see and some you won’t see.”

Read the full story here.

43 people, including 3 aid workers, killed by Israel in Khan Younis, Palestine Red Crescent Society says

Forty-three people, including three aid workers, were killed by Israel in Khan Younis over the last 12 days, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said in a statement.

The group condemned what it claimed is the Israeli military opening fire directly at the society’s headquarters and Al-Amal Hospital, where “more than 7,000 displaced people” are seeking shelter.

“PRCS views with utmost seriousness the escalating attacks by the occupation on its facilities in Khan Yunis, resulting in the killing of 43 people, including three of our team members, and the injury of 153 others, due to their targeting inside PRCS’s branch during the continuous twelve days of siege and targeting,” the group said in the statement issued yesterday.

Yesterday, three displaced people were killed along with Hidaya Hamad, the PRCS director of the youth and volunteers department in Gaza.

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Israel and the Occupied Territories joined the PRCS in mourning the three aid workers killed this week in Khan Younis, whom they identified as Naeem Hasan Al-Jabali, Khalid Kulab, and Hamad.

“International humanitarian law provides protections for humanitarian workers, those wearing the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblem, and medical facilities,” the group wrote on X. “These protections must be respected.”

The PRCS said Israel’s direct targeting of its headquarters and the hospital is preventing access to the buildings and movement of ambulance crews and creating a “tragic” humanitarian situation in Al-Amal Hospital, where there is a shortage of “oxygen, surgical supplies, antibiotics, medicines for people with chronic diseases and other medical supplies.”

“Accordingly, the PRCS calls for the need to open an urgent humanitarian corridor to evacuate the displaced who wish to leave the place in light of the dangerous conditions they live in,” the group said.

NBC News has not independently verified the details of the PRCS updates. The IDF said in a statement that it did not operate inside of Al-Amal Hospital or request its evacuation.

The IDF said last week that it had received information that militants were operating in and around Al-Amal Hospital, which is run by the PRCS, and the nearby Nasser Hospital.

The E.U. is worried that Israel might extend the war in Gaza to a ‘pressure cooker’ town near Egypt

BRUSSELS — The European Union on Saturday expressed deep concern over reports that the Israeli military intends to take its battle against Hamas to the town of Rafah at Gaza’s border with Egypt, where more than a million people have escaped the fighting.

The E.U.’s top diplomat warned that conflict is likely to spread throughout the region unless a cease-fire is agreed between Israel and Hamas, after U.S. airstrikes hit dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that around 1 million Palestinians “have been displaced progressively against the Egyptian border. They claimed they were safe zones, but in fact what we see is that the bombing affecting the civilian population continues and it is creating a very dire situation.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday that after Israeli troops seize the southern city of Khan Younis, from which tens of thousands of people have fled, they will move on to Rafah. He did not give a time frame.

Such an offensive could push the refugees into Egypt, undermining Israel’s peace agreement with the country and angering the United States. It might also torpedo slow-moving peace talks with Hamas and complicate efforts to release scores of Israelis abducted when the militant group rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7.

The prospect of a ground war in Rafah has raised fears about where the population would go to find safety. The United Nations said the town is becoming a “pressure cooker of despair.”

Speaking in Brussels before chairing informal talks among E.U. foreign ministers, Borrell said that the Israel-Hamas war has created “a domino effect,” with conflict also erupting in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and in the Red Sea area.

“We are living a critical situation in the Middle East, in the whole region,” he said. “As long as the war in Gaza continues, it is very difficult to believe that the situation in the Red Sea will improve, because one thing is related with the other.”

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, whose country currently holds the E.U.’s rotating presidency, warned of “a real risk of spillover of the conflict.”

“It’s a huge concern. We ask for restraint, and we ask for dialogue and diplomacy. It’s the only way we can calm down the situation in the Middle East,” she told reporters.

Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski from Poland, a staunch U.S. ally, said those targeted in the U.S. airstrikes had it coming. “Iran’s proxies have played with fire for months and years and it’s now burning them,” he said.

Iraq received warning of strikes, says U.S. administration official

Iraq did receive prior warning of American airstrikes, contrary to the claims of Iraqi government officials, a senior administration official told NBC News today.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani earlier described the White House’s assertion that Iraq had been notified of the United States’ intention to conduct airstrikes as “lies,” as the foreign ministry called in the top U.S. diplomat in Iraq to protest what they called the “blatant aggression” against Iraqi sovereignty.

But according to one administration official, the Iraqi government was given short-notice warning that the U.S. would strike. “It wasn’t a huge heads up,” they said, “but it is not accurate to say they weren’t informed.”

The official emphasized that the strikes were tied directly to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and were in direct response to the killing of the three American soldiers, unlike the smaller U.S. retaliation following Houthi attacks on international shipping. “What you saw last night and what you are going to see again was not insignificant,” the official added. “There are other things we’re going to do. Some you will see and some you won’t see.”

Iraqi militia official downplays impact of U.S. strikes, says group does not ‘wish to escalate’

An Iraqi militia official on Saturday hinted at a desire to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East following retaliatory strikes launched by the United States against dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Hussein al-Mosawi, spokesperson for Harakat al-Nujaba, one of the main Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, in an interview with The Associated Press in Baghdad condemned the U.S. strikes, saying Washington “must understand that every action elicits a reaction.” But he then struck a more conciliatory tone, saying that “we do not wish to escalate or widen regional tensions.”

Mosawi said the targeted sites in Iraq were mainly “devoid of fighters and military personnel at the time of the attack.” Suggesting there was not too much damage could allow him to justify the lack of a strong response.

Palestinian Foreign Ministry: Fighting in Rafah exposes 1.5 million to ‘real danger’

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has warned that attacks on Rafah would expose the lives of 1.5 million Palestinians living there to “great and real danger.”

In a statement was in response to those made by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday, in which he said that the IDF would advancing operations from Khan Younis to Rafah, the city on the border with Egypt, where more than a million Gazans have sought refuge.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said it viewed Yoav’s comments with “great seriousness” and that Israel was continuing to “commit more crimes and massacres against civilians in all areas of the Gaza Strip.”

The ministry added that “humanitarian catastrophe” was expanding in the Gaza Strip alongside “massacres, murders, destruction and continuous forced displacement” despite warnings and demands placed on Israel by the U.N. and the international community.

U.S. shoots down drones off the coast of Yemen

The U.S. shot down several drones at various locations in the Red Sea yesterday, according to an updated from Centcom, the U.S. Central Command.

The USS Carney, a guided missile destroyer, shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and Somalia and conducted further strikes against Houthi UAVs this morning, with no injuries or damage reported, Centcom said.

Later, Central Command forces “conducted strikes against four Houthi UAVs that were prepared to launch” and presented an “imminent threat to merchant vessels and the U.S. Navy ships in the region.”

Fighter jets and destroyers also separately shot down seven UAVs over the Red Sea in the evening, the post said.

The Houthis, an Iran-backed Yemeni militant group that controls vast swaths of territory, has said it will continue to act against merchant vessels in the Red Sea, despite U.S. attacks, until there is a permanent cease-fire in Gaza.

Map: U.S. strikes on militant facilities in Syria and Iraq

Yesterday’s attacks struck targets on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border. From the information that has come in so far, several of those locations have been identified.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: A ‘cautious calm’ prevails

Activists associated with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitoring group, have said a “cautious calm” prevails in areas controlled by the Assad regime and Iranian militias in the eastern Deir Ez-Zor province following U.S. airstrikes.

Activists reported “intense flight” by U.S. drones over the city of Al-Bukamal, near the border with Iraq, and are monitoring further developments.

Iranian militias had imposed a “security cordon” on positions targeted by the U.S., it added, and were preventing cars and pedestrians from entry.

U.S. strikes on Iraq and Syria are ‘strategic mistake,’ Iran says

Airstrikes on targets in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for the death of three American soldiers in Jordan were “a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, international law, and a clear violation of the United Nations Charter,” a spokesperson for the Iranian foreign ministry said today.

Spokesperson Nasser Kan’ani added that the attacks were “another strategic mistake” by the U.S. that would have “no result other than the escalation of tension and instability in the region.”

U.K. says it supports U.S. right to strike Iraq, Syria

The United Kingdom is a “steadfast” ally to the U.S., a British government spokesperson said in a statement, speaking in support of overnight strikes on Iraq and Syria.

“We wouldn’t comment on their operations, but we support their right to respond to attacks,” the spokesperson added, accusing Iran of “destabilising activity” in the region, and of providing financial, political and military support to a range of militant groups.

Over 100 killed in Gaza in the last 24 hours, health ministry says

Gaza’s death toll climbed to over 27,200 today as 107 people were killed in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said.

More than 165 people were also injured in the attacks, the health ministry added, with many still trapped under rubble with no access for ambulances or rescue crews.

Hamas says attacks on Iraq and Syria are ‘dangerous escalation’

Hamas has accused the U.S. of threatening the “stability of the region,” and described the strikes as “in service of the occupation’s [Israel’s] expansionist agenda.”

Hamas said that the strikes added “fuel to the fire” in the region, in a statement released on Telegram.

Warning of consequences, the group called on the U.S. to “review its aggressive policies and respect the sovereignty of states and the interests of Arab peoples.”

Iraqi foreign ministry summons U.S. chargé d’affaires in Baghdad

The Iraqi foreign ministry summoned the U.S. chargé d’affaires of the United States Embassy in Baghdad to lodge an official complaint about the overnight airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

The summoning order was to “deliver an official note of protest regarding the American attack that targeted military and civilian sites in the Akashat and Al-Qaim regions yesterday evening,” the ministry told the Iraqi News Agency.

U.S. continues to repel ongoing Houthi strikes in the Red Sea

USS EISENHOWER, the Red Sea — The U.S. sent nearly a dozen F/A-18 fighter jets to repel multiple incoming drones fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen last night, U.S. officials told NBC News.

Fighter jets were supported by EA-18 Growlers protecting the jets from Houthi defenses, they added. The attacks were not part of larger retaliatory actions on Iraq, Syria and Yemen, U.S. defense officials said.

A Houthi spokesperson said yesterday that the group “will not hesitate to carry out further military operations against the Zionist enemy” despite retaliation in the Red Sea from U.S. coalition forces. Houthis had earlier carried out a missile operation in Israel’s south “with a number of ballistic missiles,” the statement added.

Separately, Ambrey, a maritime risk assessment company, said there had been two explosions off Zubair Island in the Red Sea, off the coast of Yemen.

E.U. foreign policy chief calls for de-escalation in the Middle East

All parties engaged in the widening conflict in the Middle East should work to prevent a more dangerous conflict, E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said today.

“Everybody should try to avoid that the situation becomes explosive,” Borrell said at a meeting of E.U. foreign ministers in Brussels, adding that the Middle East was a “boiler that can explode.”

He did not name the U.S. directly, but said that all parties should “try and avoid an escalation.”

‘We will continue to take action,’ says U.S. Central Command

The U.S. will continue to take action against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated groups, a U.S. Central Command (Centcom) commander said the morning after U.S. forces struck more than 80 targets in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. will “do whatever is necessary to protect our people, and hold those responsible who threaten their safety” said Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla.

Civilians killed in U.S. attacks on Iraq, government says

Overnight airstrikes on Iraq killed 16 people, including civilians, and wounded 25 others, a spokesperson for the Iraqi government said in a statement.

The strikes on Akashat and Al-Qaim, near Iraq’s western border with Syria, also caused “losses and damage to residential buildings and citizens’ property” the spokesperson added.

The attacks “put security in Iraq and the region on the brink of abyss” the statement added, saying that Iraq was “not the appropriate place to send messages and show force between opponents.”

U.S. airstrikes fueling Middle East conflict in ‘a very dangerous way,’ Syria says

Overnight airstrikes on Iraq and Syria are fueling the Middle East conflict in “a very dangerous way,” the Syrian foreign ministry said in a social media statement today.

Accusing the U.S. of inflaming the conflict, the foreign ministry said on Facebook that the strikes were violations of Syria’s “sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the safety of its people.”

In a separate statement also shared to Facebook, Syria’s defense ministry said that the strikes had caused “significant damage to public and private property.”

The General Command of the Syrian army warned that “the occupation of parts of Syrian lands by American forces cannot continue.”

Hamas holds ‘consultations’ on hostage deal but reiterates calls for full cease-fire

TEL AVIV — The head of Hamas’ political bureau said yesterday that the militant group has held “consultations” on a proposal to free Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip, but reiterated its demands for a complete and final halt to Israel’s attacks on the Palestinian coastal enclave.

Hamas’ list of demands, nearly all of which have been publicly rejected by Israel, belie recent signals by diplomats who have participated in the negotiations and Hamas itself that the militant group may be willing to compromise.

“The study of the new proposal for a cease-fire is based on the basis that any negotiations lead to a complete end to the aggression,” said the statement from Ismail Haniyeh, which was released on Hamas’ official Telegram channel on Friday evening.

The statement added that negotiations should lead to “the withdrawal of the occupation army outside the Gaza Strip, the lifting of the siege, reconstruction, and entry of all life requirements for our people, and the completion of an integrated exchange deal.”

Haniyeh’s statement echoed comments from Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official in Beirut, who told Lebanese media on Friday that the “complete withdrawal from Gaza and release of prisoners are two main conditions for accepting the deal.”

Hopes had grown that the deal might be nearing agreement over the coming days. On Thursday night, a spokesman for the foreign ministry of Qatar, one of the main interlocutors in the hostage negotiations, said the “proposal has been approved by the Israeli side and now we have initial positive confirmation from the Hamas’s side also on the framework.”

It was unclear on Friday whether the twin statements would force a return to painstaking negotiations to free 136 hostages still held in the Gaza, including six Americans.

Leaders from four nations had arrived at the proposal during meetings in Paris over the weekend.

The Paris deal reportedly would have swapped one Israeli hostage for the release of three Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons.

The exchange would take place in stages for as long as six weeks, during which Israel would be expected to halt its monthslong incursion in the Gaza Strip.

But officials in Israel’s government have repeatedly tamped down speculation that Israel may also be nearing approval of the deal.

The terms of the exchange still haven’t been handed over from the war Cabinet to Israel’s full Cabinet, according to an Israeli government official — a necessary first step toward final approval.

If approved by the full Cabinet, the Israeli public would then have 24 hours to contest it before the Supreme Court, though in the past the court has typically rejected such challenges.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated repeatedly this week that he will not accede to a deal that would see the “release of thousands of terrorists” or withdraw Israel’s army from the Gaza Strip, where Netanyahu has vowed to eradicate Hamas.

Video appears to show the fire and secondary effects from a U.S. airstrike in Iraq.

An Iraqi security official told NBC News that a strike targeted a weapons warehouse and three houses belonging to Kata’ib Hezbollah in Anbar Province, which is in western Iraq.

Analysis: Strikes underscore Iran’s presence in the region

ERBIL, Iraq — Initial reports from the region suggest that the focus of tonight’s U.S. attacks have been Anbar province in Iraq and Deir ez-Zor governorate in Syria. The strikes ran along the same border that connects to Jordan and Tower 22, where three American service members were killed. They also hit areas home to the Iranian-backed militia accused of carrying out last Sunday’s deadly attack.

“This is by far the most expansive military action we’ve seen against Iran’s proxies in Syria and Iraq to date,” said Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. “That makes it a significant development.”

The scale and scope of tonight’s strikes also underscore how embedded Iran has become in this region. There are many more places with ties to Iran that the U.S. could have hit but has chosen not to in this first stage. They include known Iranian facilities around Damascus and Aleppo airports, sites targeted by the Israelis last year.

While this is a substantial strike by the U.S., as an escalation, it is so far also limited. The question is whether it is enough to change Iran’s long-term strategy of pressuring Israel and pushing America out of the region.

“In terms of measuring how maximalist or minimalist we could have been, this sits somewhere in the middle,” Lister said. “I’d count on the militias feeling relatively confident that they’ll be targeting Americans again not too long from now.”

U.S. conducted strikes knowing there would likely be casualties

When the United States struck Iranian-backed militia targets in Iraq and Syria today, they did so knowing that there would likely be casualties, officials said.

Militants and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps use the facilities that were struck in retaliation for a drone attack that killed three U.S. service members, Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II said.

He said that the U.S. feels good about the precision of the strikes and that they were strong military targets.

The military made the strikes understanding there would likely be casualties, Sims said. The number of casualties was not immediately clear from officials.

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