British forces joined their American allies on Saturday in new attacks against militia in Yemen. Previously, the US military launched strikes on dozens of sites manned by Iranian-backed fighters in western Iraq and eastern Syria in retaliation for a drone strike in Jordan in late January that killed three US service members. and injured dozens.
Tensions have risen in the region since the war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7. A week later, Iranian-backed fighters, who are loosely allied with Hamas, began carrying out drone and rocket attacks against bases housing US troops in Iraq and Syria. A deadly attack on the desert outpost known as Tower 22 in Jordan, near the Syrian border, further raised tensions.
What happened in Yemen?
The United States and Britain on Saturday launched a barrage of strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen from fighter jets and warships in the Red Sea, U.S. officials told The Associated Press.
The strikes hit 36 Houthi targets in 13 locations, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the military operation. It is the third time in two weeks that the United States and Britain have carried out a major joint operation to attack Houthi weapons launchers, radar sites and drones.
The attacks came in response to almost daily missile or drone attacks on commercial and military ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand supported the latest wave of attacks aimed at “defending lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the most critical waterways in the world.” world”.
What aircraft were used in the attacks on Yemen?
The Houthi targets were attacked by American F/A-18 fighter jets from the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, by British Typhoon FGR4 fighter jets, and by the Navy destroyers USS Gravely and USS Carney firing Tomahawk missiles from the sea. Red, according to US officials and the UK Ministry of Defense.
Who was the target of attacks in Syria and Iraq and why?
Friday’s attacks were retaliation for the drone attack that killed three US soldiers in Jordan on January 28.
US forces struck 85 targets in seven locations in a strategic region where thousands of Iranian-backed fighters are deployed to help expand Iran’s influence from Tehran to the Mediterranean coast.
US bases in the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour and the northeastern province of Hassakeh have been under attack for years. The Euphrates River flows through Syria into Iraq, with U.S. troops and U.S.-backed Kurdish-led fighters on the east bank and Iranian-backed fighters and Syrian government forces on the west.
US troop bases in Iraq have also been attacked.
The Iranian-backed militias control the Iraqi side of the border and move freely in and out of Syria, where they occupy positions with their allies from Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah and other Shiite armed groups.
What was affected in Iraq and Syria? How many people were killed?
The US military said the barrage of attacks hit command and control headquarters; intelligence centers; storage sites for rockets and missiles, drones and ammunition; and other facilities connected to militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, which manages Tehran’s relationship with regional militias and their weaponry.
Syrian opposition activists said the strikes hit the Imam Ali base near the Syrian border town of Boukamal, the Ein Ali base in Quriya, just south of the strategic town of Mayadeen, and a radar center on a mountain. near the provincial capital which is also called Deir el-Zour.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said 29 rank-and-file fighters were killed in those strikes.
The strikes also hit a border crossing known as Humaydiya, where militias cross between Iraq and Syria, according to Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist who runs the media outlet Deir Ezzor 24. He said the strikes also hit an area within of the city of Mayadeen known as “the safe neighborhood”.
Iraqi government spokesman Bassim al-Awadi said the border attacks killed 16 people and caused “significant damage” to homes and private property.
The Popular Mobilization Force, a coalition of Iranian-backed militias that is nominally under the control of the Iraqi army, said the strikes in western Iraq hit a logistical support post, a tank battalion, an artillery post and a hospital. The PMF said 16 people were killed and 36 injured, and that authorities were searching for other missing people.
Will Iran-backed fighters retaliate?
Iran and the groups it backs in the region aim to pressure Washington to force Israel to end its crushing offensive in Gaza, but do not appear to want an all-out war. The defeat of Hamas would be a major setback for Tehran, which considers itself and its allies the main defenders of the Palestinian cause.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iran-backed groups, said it carried out two explosive drone attacks on Saturday against bases housing U.S. troops in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil and a post in northeastern Syria, near the border with Iraq.
The only Iranian-backed faction that has been escalating are the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and they have made clear that they have no intention of scaling back their campaign.
Baldor and Copp reported from Washington, D.C.