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Friday, April 19, 2024

US Threatens More Countermeasures if Attacks by Iran-Supported Militias Persist


From the heart of JERUSALEM — The United States‌ has issued a ‌stern warning to Iran and its affiliated militias⁤ following a series⁢ of retaliatory strikes ‌over the weekend. The U.S. has made it clear‌ that⁢ it will not hesitate to launch further attacks if American forces in the ‍Middle ⁣East continue to be targeted. However, it has​ also emphasized that it does not seek an “unending military⁤ campaign” across the region.

“We stand ready ‌to confront any threat from​ any group or country,” stated Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser. He further warned Iran to anticipate “a ⁤swift and decisive response” if it — or any of its proxies — “opted to retaliate directly” against ​the U.S.

Sullivan issued these warnings during a series of interviews‌ with various TV news outlets. This followed the U.S. ⁢and Britain’s joint operation on Saturday,​ which​ targeted 36 ‍Houthi strongholds in Yemen. These Iran-backed‍ militants have repeatedly attacked American⁢ and international interests in the aftermath of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

On⁤ Friday, ​an air raid in Iraq and Syria targeted other​ Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary‌ Guard. This was in retaliation for the drone strike that claimed the lives of three U.S. troops in ⁢Jordan ⁢last‍ weekend. The⁣ U.S.‌ launched another attack on Houthi targets ‍on Sunday.

“We cannot dismiss ⁣the possibility of future ⁢attacks​ from ⁤Iranian-backed militias‍ in Iraq and Syria or from the Houthis,” Sullivan said. ​He added ⁤that the president has instructed his commanders to “be ready⁤ to ‍respond ⁣to further⁤ attacks.”

The U.S. has attributed the attack on the Tower 22 base in Jordan on Jan. 28 to the‌ Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of Iranian-backed militias. Iran has attempted to distance itself from the drone strike, claiming that the militias⁣ operate independently of its control.

When asked about the potential for strikes inside Iran that⁢ would⁣ escalate the conflict in‍ the volatile region, Sullivan said that Biden “is not⁣ seeking a broader war.” However, he added: “If they chose to retaliate directly against the United States, they would be met with a swift and⁢ decisive response from us.”

While promising a “sustained response” to new attacks on Americans, Sullivan clarified that he “would not characterize ‍it as an indefinite​ military campaign.”

Nevertheless, he ​stated, “We⁢ plan to ‍carry out additional strikes and take further action‌ to continue to send ⁤a clear message that the United States will retaliate when our ‌forces are attacked or our ⁤people are killed.”

He added that more⁣ steps will be taken, some of which will be visible, while others may not be.

The U.S. assault on numerous sites​ in Iraq and Syria hit over 85 targets at seven locations. ‍These included⁣ command and​ control centers, intelligence ⁢hubs, rockets and missiles, drone⁣ and ammunition storage sites, and other facilities linked to the militias ‌or the Islamic Revolutionary‌ Guard Corps’ Quds Force, the expeditionary unit that manages Tehran’s relationship with, ‍and arming of, regional⁣ militias.

So far,⁤ the ‌Biden administration has refrained from directly targeting ​Iran or senior ⁤leaders of the Quds Force within ⁢its borders.

Sullivan ⁢stated that the U.S.⁢ military does not have any confirmation ‌at this time ⁣of civilian casualties from those strikes. “What we do know is that the targets we hit were absolutely valid targets ⁢from the perspective ⁣of containing the weaponry and the personnel that were attacking American forces. So, ⁢we ⁤are confident in the targets that we struck.”

Some of⁢ the militias have posed a⁣ threat ⁤to U.S. bases for years, but the groups ​intensified their assaults in the wake ‌of Israel’s war with‌ Hamas following the Oct. 7 attack ‍on Israel that killed 1,200 people and resulted in 250 others‍ being taken hostage. Israel’s‌ offensive ⁣against Hamas in Gaza has‍ resulted in more than 27,000 deaths, according to the territory’s Health Ministry.

The Houthis have launched almost daily missile or drone attacks against commercial and military ships transiting the Red Sea and Gulf of ​Aden. They ‌have made⁢ it clear that they have no intention⁢ of ⁤reducing their campaign despite a new international force to protect vessels in the crucial ‍waterway.

U.S. strikes overnight Sunday targeted six provinces‍ of⁣ Yemen controlled by the Houthi ‍rebels, including Sanaa, the capital.‌ The Houthis did not provide an assessment of ⁤the damage, but ⁢the U.S. ⁤reported hitting underground missile arsenals, ⁢launch ⁤sites, ‌and helicopters used by the‌ rebels.

“These attacks will not deter Yemeni forces and the nation from maintaining their support ⁣for Palestinians ‍in the face of the Zionist occupation and crimes,”‌ said Houthi‌ military spokesman Brig.⁢ Gen. Yahya Saree.‍ “The aggressors’ airstrikes⁢ will not go unanswered.”

Meanwhile, Iran has warned the U.S. against potentially ‌targeting two cargo ships in ‌the ⁢Mideast, which have ‍long been suspected of serving ⁢as forward operating bases for ‍Iranian commandos. The statement ‌from Iran regarding the​ Behshad and Saviz‍ ships appears to indicate Tehran’s growing concern over the U.S.⁣ strikes across⁤ the ‌region.

The‍ ships are registered‌ as commercial cargo ships​ with⁢ a Tehran-based company that the U.S. Treasury has sanctioned​ as a front for‍ the​ state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. The Saviz, and later the Behshad,​ have lingered for years⁣ in the Red Sea off Yemen, suspected of serving⁢ as spy positions for ​Iran’s ‍Revolutionary Guard.

In a video statement by Iran’s regular army, a⁢ narrator describes‍ the vessels as ‍”floating armories.” The narrator describes the Behshad as⁣ aiding an Iranian mission to “counteract piracy in the Red ‍Sea and the Gulf of Aden.” However, ‌Iran is not publicly known to have participated in any of the recent campaigns against rising ⁢Somali piracy in the region in the wake of the Houthi attacks.

Just before the⁤ new⁤ campaign of U.S. airstrikes began,‌ the Behshad ⁣traveled south into the Gulf ‍of Aden. It’s now docked in Djibouti in East Africa, ‍just off the coast from a Chinese ⁣military base in the country.

The statement concludes with a warning overlaid with a ⁣montage⁣ of ⁣footage of U.S. warships and an American ⁣flag.

“Those engaging in terrorist‍ activities against Behshad or ⁢similar vessels jeopardize international maritime routes, security and assume global responsibility ⁢for potential future international‍ risks,” ⁤the video said.

The U.S. ⁢Navy’s ‌Mideast-based 5th Fleet declined to​ comment on the threat.

The Saviz is now ‌in the Indian Ocean near where the U.S. alleges Iranian drone attacks recently have targeted ⁤shipping.

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

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  1. The US must take a strong stance against these continued attacks by Iran-supported militias to protect its interests and ensure regional stability.


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