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US approves multiple strikes in Iraq and Syria

US plans have been approved for multi-day strikes in Iraq and Syria against multiple targets, including Iranian personnel and facilities, CBS News reported, citing American officials.

The report follows days of conjecture about how Washington plans to retaliate after three US service members were killed on Saturday by a drone strike in Jordan, the first US deaths in an escalation of violence across Middle East flashpoints since Israel’s war in Gaza began in October.

President Joe Biden, under pressure to take firm action, has said he has decided how to respond, but has not publicly revealed the plans.

The CBS report quoted US officials as saying weather was a factor in the timing of the planned strikes, as Washington prefers to carry out strikes when visibility is good over its targets to safeguard against hitting civilians.

Washington has said the attack on its troops in Jordan at the weekend near the Syrian border bore the “footprints” of Ketaib Hezbollah, a pro-Iranian militia based in neighbouring Iraq.

Map from 28 January via US Central Command (CENTCOM)

That group said yesterday it was suspending military action against US forces to avoid embarrassing the Iraqi government.

Four US officials told Reuters the drone used in the attack was believed to have been made in Iran.

Violence has erupted in several Middle East countries where Iran’s “axis of resistance” of allied armed groups operate, since Israel launched its offensive in Gaza in response to attacks by Hamas militants on 7 October.

This week has seen an acceleration of diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza, even as fighting there has intensified as Israeli troops battle to capture the main city in the south of the enclave, Khan Younis.

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