At least 16 people, 'including civilians,' killed in US airstrikes, Iraq says

The attack hit 85 sites in Iraq and Syria as the US launched retaliatory against Iranian-backed groups and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, ITV News' Amy Lewis reports

US air strikes killed at least 16 people, including civilians, and injured 25 others, in Iraq according a spokesperson for the country's government.

The attack hit 85 sites in Iraq and Syria as the US launched retaliatory against Iranian-backed groups and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the countries.

The Pentagon confirmed the targeted attacks were in retaliation to a drone strike which killed three American soldiers in Jordan last weekend. Bodies of the three soldiers were repatriated to the US yesterday.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) said it had launched more than 125 precision guided missiles on Friday night, hitting "command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicle storages".

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin suggested this was only the beginning of the strikes, CNN reports.

A UK government spokesperson said. “The UK and US are steadfast allies. We wouldn’t comment on their operations, but we support their right to respond to attacks.

“We have long condemned Iran’s destabilising activity throughout the region, including its political, financial and military support to a number of militant groups.” 

Will these strikes escalate tensions? ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy explains the US' retaliatory action

A statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, said the action was aimed against "Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups".

According to UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 18 militants were killed in the Syria strikes.

The Syrian military on Saturday said the US strikes had killed civilians and soldiers and caused “significant damage” to infrastructure, CNN reports

Syria and Iraq both called the US strikes a violation and warned that they could further destabilize the Middle East.

Local authorities in Iraq's Anbar province said the airstrikes hit sites used by militias known as Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashad al Shaabi, including a PMU military base in the Akashat and houses used as weapon warehouses in Al-Qaim, CNN reports

Despite President Joe Biden saying, "the United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world."

He added the military action will "continue at times and places of our choosing", adding: "If you harm an American, we will respond."

B-1 bombers - long-range heavy bombers that can deploy precision and non-precision weapons - were used in the operations, a defence official told ITV News' US partner CNN. The strike lasted just 30 minutes, the White House said.

With multiple militant groups working in different locations, in several countries, it is unclear how much impact the strikes will have.

The US also put out warnings days before the action took place, which may have sent militia members running into hiding.

The action comes hours after the bodies of the three American soldiers killed in Jordan last Sunday were returned to the US.

President Biden joined the families of Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Sgt. Breonna Moffett of Savannah and Sgt. Kennedy Sanders of Waycross at the Dover Airforce Base in Delaware for a ritual to honour the group.

“This is not the homecoming for Kennedy I dreamed about,” Sanders' father, Shawn, wrote in a Facebook posting Friday morning. “Now, I can’t stop reliving this nightmare.”

President Biden watches as an army carry team moves the flag-draped transfer case containing the remains of three soldiers killed in Jordan. Credit: AP

Shortly later, the military plans came into effect85 targets in Syria and Iraq were hit,

Islamic Resistance - a coalition of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq - has been blamed by the US for the Jordan drone attack. Iran has denied it was behind the strike.

Friday's relation from the US appeared to stop short of directly targeting Iran or senior leaders of the IRGC within Iran's borders.

Attacks against US bases in the Middle East have intensified in the wake of Israel's multi-pronged offensive into the Gaza Strip.

Israel's military action itself was prompted by proscribed terror group Hamas' surprise incursion into southern Israel on October 7.

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