U.S. airstrikes targeted sites in Iraq and Syria belonging to the IRGC and Iranian-backed militias. The strikes are a response to the killing and wounding of American soldiers in Jordan on Jan. 28.
“At 4:00 p.m. (EST) Feb. 02, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups. U.S. military forces struck more than 85 targets, with numerous aircraft to include long-range bombers flown from United States,” CENTCOM stated.
Additionally, CENTCOM noted it attacked “command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicle storages, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities” belonging to the IRGC and affiliated militia groups.
According to the The Wall Street Journal, the Jordanian military is expected to contribute aircraft to attack the militias.
Separately, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned that President Biden directed additional actions against the IRGC and Iranian-backed militia groups that will occur at “times and places of our choosing.”
Iranian proxy militias have launched 165 attacks on U.S. bases since Oct. 17. The U.S. response has been restrained, with only eight strikes that primarily targeted militia weapons storage facilities and safe houses. In one strike, the U.S. killed a mid-level commander from Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba.
The U.S. has telegraphed its intention to strike IRGC and militia infrastructure since the Jan. 28 militia attack that killed three U.S. soldiers at the Tower 22 base in Jordan near the border of Iraq. It has been rumored that IRGC personnel and militia leaders have since abandoned command centers and safe houses, with some senior militia leaders fleeing Iraq for the safety of Iran.
It is unclear if the U.S. response is retaliatory in nature or if the strikes are designed to force Iran into reining in its proxy terror militias to cease their attacks. Given the U.S. response to incessant attacks by the Houthis against shipping in the Red Sea, the Bab Al Mandab Strait, and the Gulf of Aden along with the Biden administration’s repeated signaling that it does not seek to escalate the conflict and statements that the U.S. is not at war with Iran, it is likely that the former and not the latter is in the cards.