The United States hit back at Iran-backed militias in Syria and Iraq. However, it wasn’t much of a punch. Joe Biden had telegraphed the strike for 5 days giving the enemy everything except the exact location of the strike and giving them plenty of time to move assets and critical personnel out of the way.
The number of attacks is misleading. The Pentagon says that 85 targets in Syria and Iraq were hit. They included “command and control operations, intelligence centers, rockets and missiles, and drone storage sites,” according to NBC News.
“If you harm an American, we will respond,” Biden said. Americans have been harmed since the October 7 war began. Drone strikes on Americans in Syria and Iraq have injured a dozen or more servicemembers.
We get it. Biden doesn’t want to expand the war. But this is a strategy with diminishing returns and eventually, Biden is going to have to leave the Middle East or remove the threat. That means war with Iran that could easily get out of control and involve much of the planet.
“Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.”
Syrian state television reported that the strikes killed and wounded people, but it did not specify an exact number of casualties.
Kirby said the U.S. did not know how many militants were killed or wounded, but said the targets were selected to avoid civilian casualties.
The targets were “based on a clear, irrefutable evidence they were connected to attacks on U.S personnel in the region,” he said.
“We made these strikes tonight with an idea that there would likely be casualties associated with people inside those facilities,” he said. That includes Iranian Revolutionary Guard members and other Iranians associated with the terrorist militias. Iran is now going to be forced to hit back at U.S. forces.
Tit-for-tat attacks is a dangerous game and it’s doubtful that Biden or his team is looking much beyond the immediate battlefield in Syria and Iraq. It should be noted that Iran has some of the deadliest anti-ship missiles in the world, including the Ra’ad anti-ship missile which is a significant upgrade to the Chinese Silkworm missile. It would be a nasty surprise if Iran fired a few of those missiles at our ships in the Gulf.
Even as Biden and his deputies vowed to retaliate, they have added the caveat that Washington does not seek a war with Iran or a wider conflict in the region, a sentiment that was reiterated in the president’s statement on Friday. Their calibrated statements appeared to indicate that it was unlikely the reprisal strikes would hit targets inside Iran itself.
“We will continue to work to avoid a wider conflict in a region, but we will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our interests and our people,” Austin told reporters at a Pentagon news conference Thursday.
Austin repeated much of that statement on Friday after the strikes, adding in part that “the president and I will not tolerate attacks on American forces.”
There are going to be more attacks on Americans and probably more Americans killed. So what did the three Americans killed last week really die for? Biden’s re-election? Israel’s security? A bid to avoid an all-out war with Iran?
They didn’t die to protect American interests. And that is a tragedy.