Army carry team moves the transfer case containing the remains of service member killed in a drone attack in Jordan.Matt Rourke/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

On Friday, the United States launched retaliatory airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against targets linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Iranian-backed militant groups. The strikes have reportedly killed nearly 40 people, with more military operations expected to follow amidst growing tension in the Middle East and fears of a wider regional conflict. “The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world,” President Joe Biden said in a statement about the airstrikes. “But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.” 

Here’s what we know so far:

Why did the US attack Iranian military targets?

The Friday airstrikes were conducted in response to a January 28 drone attack on US troops that killed three American soldiers and wounded dozens of others at a military outpost in Jordan. The US Department of Defense identified the service members as Sgt. William Jerome Rivers of Carrollton, Georgia; Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders of Waycross, Georgia; and Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett of Savannah, Georgia. The drone attack marked the first fatal assault by Iran-backed militias against US troops since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. This round of airstrikes follow US operations against Iran-aligned militant groups and an estimated 150 attacks by proxy forces against US bases in Iraq and Syria since October. Iran denied involvement in the drone attacks but a coalition of Iranian-backed militias known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility. 

What was the result of the US airstrikes?

Eighty-five targets at seven locations in western Iraq and eastern Syria have been hit by the strikes, according to the US Central Command, including command and control headquarters, intelligence centers, rockets and missiles, drone and ammunition storage sites, and other facilities. “There’s been no communications with Iran since the attack,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Friday night. At least 23 pro-Iran militants have been killed in eastern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

What has Iran done in response and what are other countries saying?

Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, calling them “violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of those countries. “The attack last night on Syria and Iraq is an adventurous action and another strategic mistake by the American government which will have no result other than increasing tensions and destabilizing the region,” said Nasser Kanaani, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry. Prior to the attack, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had said the country would “not start any war, but if anyone wants to bully us they will receive a strong response”; afterward, Yahya Rasool, a spokesperson for the Iraqi army, said the strikes “constitute a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and undermine the efforts of the Iraqi government, posing a threat that will pull Iraq and the region to undesirable consequences.” Notably, Iran has refrained from threatening to retaliate. 

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate