The first round of US bombings against pro-Iranian armed groups in Iraq and Syria, in retaliation for the death of three of their soldiers in Jordan, resulted in at least 45 dead and raised fears that it could lead to “disastrous consequences” for the entire Middle East.
Washington's air campaign in response to an attack carried out on January 28 by pro-Iran militias that killed three of its soldiers on Sunday in Jordan has unleashed a wave of criticism from Syria and Iraq, which have described the action as a violation of their sovereignty, while they have warned of the dangers it entails.
The United States announced Friday night that bombed more than 85 targets and facilities linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in eastern Syria and western Iraq, in the largest response yet against pro-Iran militias, which have launched more than 170 attacks against Washington positions in the Middle East since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.
The Iraqi government reported that at least 16 people, including civilians, died in “multiple bombings” against the Al Qaim and Akashat areas, close to the border with Syria.
The attacks were directed against positions of the Popular Multitude militia group, de facto integrated into the Iraqi Armed Forces, which also announced that 36 people were injured and that They continue the search for “bodies of several missing people.”
A building destroyed by US airstrikes in Al-Qaim, Iraq, this Saturday. Photo: REUTERS
The alliance itself indicated that the bombings targeted facilities of some of its militias that, at the same time, are part of the so-called Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an amalgamation of armed groups backed by Iran that claimed responsibility for the attack that killed the three Americans in Jordan.
The majority of the fatalities were combatants and military medical personnel of the Popular Multitude, while the government also reported the death of civilians and the destruction of residences and residential facilities.
In Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights indicated that at least 29 pro-Iran fighters lost their lives, while the activist network DeirEzzor24 lowered the figure to three and alleged that much of the impact zones were evacuated before the bombings after that Washington had been warning of a response for days.
Until now The official death toll has not been released. in eastern Syria, although the country's Defense Ministry said the bombings caused “the death of a number of civilians and soldiers” and “significant damage to public and private property,” without specifying.
Joe Biden received the bodies of the three soldiers killed in an attack in Jordan on Friday. Photo: AFP
Sentences and warnings
Iraqi and Syrian authorities offered similar condemnation of the bombings, warning that they will have “disastrous repercussions” and that “they will fuel the conflict in the Middle East in a very dangerous way”, at a time of maximum tension due to the war in the Gaza Strip.
But unlike with Syria, Iraq does maintain a good relationship with Washington, which could be severely affected by these actions against its territory.
The Iraqi government even denied that the United States coordinated with them to carry out its bombing campaign, and accused Washington of “misleading international public opinion” after US Security Council spokesman John Kirby, stated that the Executive was notified in advance.
That also led Iraq to summon the chargé d'affaires of the American embassy in Baghdad to present him a letter of protest for these “unilateral” actions, while also emphasizing the uncertain future of the troops of the international coalition led by Washington in Iraq.
The Iraqi Parliament, for its part, announced the convening of an emergency session to address the issue and adopt a “unified stance.”
Joe Biden: “If they do harm, we will respond”
The operation lasted about thirty minutes and was “a success,” declared the White House, which reiterated that it does not want a “war” with Iran.
“The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world. But let all those who want to harm us know: if you harm an American, we will respond,” warned President Joe Biden.
“Our response began today. It will continue at the time and in the places we choose,” the president said in a statement.
Some 900 US soldiers are deployed in Syria and another 2,500 in neighboring Iraq as part of an international anti-jihadist coalition created to combat the terrorist group ISIS, which almost ten years ago controlled large areas of both countries.