The U.S. has begun retaliatory strikes against Iranian armed forces and militants in Syria and Iraq following a drone attack on U.S. forces last weekend, U.S. Central Command said Friday.
Strikes began at 4 p.m. Eastern Time, officials said, targeting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force and "affiliated militia groups."
The strikes, delivered by aircraft including some long-range bombers from the United States, hit more than 85 positions including command and intelligence centers, rockets and missiles, drone storage sites and supply chain facilities.
Targets "were carefully selected to avoid civilian casualties and based on clear, irrefutable evidence that they were connected to attacks on U.S. personnel in the region," according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
The action is the first direct response to a Jan. 28 drone attack on a U.S. outpost in Jordan that killed three service members and wounded at least 40 others.
The United States this week blamed a coalition of Iran-backed militias, known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, for the drone attack.
In a statement on Friday, President Joe Biden said strikes will continue "at times and places of our choosing."
"The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world," President Biden said. "But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond."
The Sunday attack killed Spc. Kennedy Sanders, 24; Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46; and Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23. All three were reservists in the 926th Engineer Brigade, which is based in Fort Moore, Georgia.
At least 40 other people were injured in the attack, sustaining cuts, bruises or brain injuries.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reiterated that Friday's strikes in Syria and Iraq were just the beginning.
"The President has directed additional actions to hold the IRGC and affiliated militias accountable for their attacks on U.S. and Coalition Forces," he said.
Austin added, "The President and I will not tolerate attacks on American forces. We will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our forces, and our interests."
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