U.S.-based B-1 bombers play key role in retaliatory airstrikes

By Tony Bertuca / February 2, 2024 at 6:31 PM

The United States, in retaliation for a drone attack that killed three U.S. servicemembers in Jordan last Sunday, has launched airstrikes against 85 targets at seven military facilities in Iraq and Syria controlled by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' Quds Force and other affiliated groups.

Administration officials who briefed reporters said the strikes are only the beginning of the U.S. response.

The strikes were carried out by numerous U.S. aircraft including multiple B-1 bombers dispatched from the United States, according to Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, director for operations on the Joint Staff.

“The beauty of the American bomber is we can strike anywhere in the world at a time of our choosing,” he said. “We can conduct this from home turf so to speak.”

Sims said the strike also involved “a number” of aircraft from the U.S. Central Command area of operations but would not provide details.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the strikes hit three military facilities in Iraq and four in Syria.

“These targets were carefully selected to avoid civilian casualties,” he said, adding that there is “clear irrefutable evidence” that they were connected to the dozens of attacks on U.S. servicemembers in the region.

“The signal is to the IRGC and these groups is the attacks have got to stop,” he said.

Kirby, who stressed there will be additional strikes in coming days, said the attacks also degraded capability of Iran’s proxy forces in the region.

“That began tonight but it will not end tonight,” he said. “This is just a first set of responses.”

Sims said the strikes involved 125 precision guided munitions launched over a period of about 30 minutes.

“We’re very confident in the targets that we struck today,” he said. “We confidently struck targets that will impact their ability to conduct future strikes against Americans.”

The officials said the facilities struck included command and control operations centers, intelligence centers along with rocket, missile and drone storage areas and logistics and munition supply chain facilities.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released a statement stressing that the United States does not seek war.

“We do not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else, but the president and I will not tolerate attacks on American forces,” he said. “We will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our forces, and our interests.”