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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

US warns of additional retaliation if Iran-backed militias proceed their assaults

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JERUSALEM — After a weekend of retaliatory strikes, america on Sunday warned Iran and the militias it arms and funds that it’ll conduct extra assaults if American forces within the Mideast proceed to be focused, however that it doesn’t need an “open-ended army marketing campaign” throughout the area.

“We’re ready to cope with something that any group or any nation tries to return at us with,” mentioned Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s nationwide safety adviser. Sullivan mentioned Iran ought to count on “a swift and forceful response” if it — and never certainly one of its proxies — “selected to reply straight” in opposition to the U.S.

Sullivan delivered the warnings throughout a sequence of interviews with TV information reveals after the U.S. and Britain on Saturday struck 36 Houthi targets in Yemen. The Iran-backed militants have fired on American and worldwide pursuits repeatedly within the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

An air assault Friday in Iraq and Syria focused different Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in retaliation for the drone strike that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan final weekend. The U.S. fired once more at Houthi targets on Sunday.

“We can not rule out that there can be future assaults from Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria or from the Houthis,” Sullivan mentioned. He mentioned the president has informed his commanders that “they should be positioned to answer additional assaults as effectively.”

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The U.S. has blamed the assault on the Tower 22 base in Jordan on Jan. 28 on the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iranian-backed militias. Iran has tried to distance itself from the drone strike, saying the militias act independently of its course.

Biden “shouldn’t be in search of a wider conflict,” Sullivan mentioned, when questioned concerning the potential for strikes inside Iran that may broaden the battle within the risky area. However when requested about the potential of direct escalation by the Iranians, he mentioned: “In the event that they selected to reply on to america, they’d be met with a swift and forceful response from us.”

Whereas pledging to reply in a “sustained manner” to new assaults on Individuals, Sullivan mentioned he “wouldn’t describe it as some open-ended army marketing campaign.”

Nonetheless, he mentioned, “We intend to take extra strikes and extra motion to proceed to ship a transparent message that america will reply when our forces are attacked or our individuals are killed.”

There can be extra steps taken, he mentioned. “A few of these steps can be seen. Some might not be seen.”

The U.S. assault on dozens of websites in Iraq and Syria hit greater than 85 targets at seven areas. These included command and management headquarters, intelligence facilities, rockets and missiles, drone and ammunition storage websites and different services that had been related to the militias or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Power, the expeditionary unit that handles Tehran’s relationship with, and arming of, regional militias.

The Biden administration has up to now appeared to cease in need of straight focusing on Iran or senior leaders of the Quds Power inside its borders.

The U.S. army doesn’t have any affirmation at the moment of civilian casualties from these strikes, Sullivan mentioned. “What we do know is that the targets we hit had been completely legitimate targets from the viewpoint of containing the weaponry and the personnel that had been attacking American forces. So, we’re assured within the targets that we struck.”

Among the militias have been a risk to U.S. bases for years, however the teams intensified their assaults within the wake of Israel’s conflict with Hamas following the Oct. 7 assault on Israel that killed 1,200 folks and noticed 250 others taken hostage. Greater than 27,000 folks have been killed by Israel’s offensive in opposition to Hamas in Gaza, the territory’s Well being Ministry has mentioned,

The Houthis have carried out virtually each day missile or drone assaults in opposition to industrial and army ships transiting the Purple Sea and Gulf of Aden and so they have made clear that they haven’t any intention of scaling again their marketing campaign regardless of a brand new worldwide drive to guard vessels within the important waterway.

U.S. strikes in a single day Sunday struck throughout six provinces of Yemen held by the Houthi rebels, together with in Sanaa, the capital. The Houthis gave no evaluation of the injury however the U.S. described hitting underground missile arsenals, launch websites and helicopters utilized by the rebels.

“These assaults is not going to discourage Yemeni forces and the nation from sustaining their help for Palestinians within the face of the Zionist occupation and crimes,” Houthi army spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree mentioned. “The aggressors’ airstrikes is not going to go unanswered.”

In the meantime, Iran warned the U.S. over probably focusing on two cargo ships within the Mideast lengthy suspected of serving as forwarding working bases for Iranian commandos. The assertion from Iran on the Behshad and Saviz ships appeared to sign Tehran’s rising unease over the U.S. strikes throughout the area.

The ships are registered as industrial cargo ships with a Tehran-based firm the U.S. Treasury has sanctioned as a entrance for the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Delivery Strains. The Saviz, then later the Behshad, have loitered for years within the Purple Sea off Yemen, suspected of serving as spy positions for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

Within the video assertion by Iran’s common military, a narrator describes the vessels as “floating armories.” The narrator describes the Behshad as aiding an Iranian mission to “counteract piracy within the Purple Sea and the Gulf of Aden.” However Iran shouldn’t be publicly recognized to have taken half in any of the current campaigns in opposition to rising Somali piracy within the area off the again of the Houthi assaults.

Simply earlier than the brand new marketing campaign of U.S. airstrikes started, the Behshad traveled south into the Gulf of Aden. It is now docked in Djibouti in East Africa simply off the coast from a Chinese language army base within the nation.

The assertion ends with a warning overlaid with a montage of footage of U.S. warships and an American flag.

“These participating in terrorist actions in opposition to Behshad or related vessels jeopardize worldwide maritime routes, safety and assume world accountability for potential future worldwide dangers,” the video mentioned.

The U.S. Navy’s Mideast-based fifth Fleet declined to remark over the risk.

The Saviz is now within the Indian Ocean close to the place the U.S. alleges Iranian drone assaults not too long ago have focused transport.

Sullivan appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” ABC’s “This Week,” CNN’s “State of the Union” and CBS’ “Face the Nation.”


Copp reported from Washington. Related Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and Brian Melley in London contributed to this report.

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