UPDATED, 2:21 PM: As the American military Friday pounds Iranian proxy groups in the Middle East over the killing of three U.S. soldiers last week, President Joe Biden has warned more bombs could be coming.
“This past Sunday, three American soldiers were killed in Jordan by a drone launched by militant groups backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps,” the president said in a statement just released by the White House. “Earlier today, I attended the dignified return of these brave Americans at Dover Airforce Base, and I have spoken with each of their families. This afternoon, at my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militia use to attack U.S. forces.”
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Biden said recently that he had made a decision to hit back but offered no details. At present, while nearly 90 targets have been bombed in today’s counterattack led by B1 bombers, none are inside Iran.
“Our response began today,” Biden added today of the ongoing strikes. “It will continue at times and places of our choosing. The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world. But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.”
Biden is next due to make a trip to L.A. this weekend along with a campaign event in Las Vegas.
PREVIOUSLY, 1:53 PM: The much-anticipated U.S. military response to the killing of three American service members last week has commenced, despite what Fox News and ABC News were reporting and then recanting earlier today.
“I have a point of clarification in some of my reporting just moments ago, as you know, in some of these situations, the first reports can be wrong,” FNC’s Jennifer Griffin told Neil Cavuto live on-air in the past 30 minutes. Followed by a reiteration of her earlier reporting that “multi-layered attacks” in Syria were in fact occurring, the retraction of sorts by the respected Griffin looks like a case of jumping the gun.
The Pentagon has just confirmed that 85 targets have been hit in its first strike against Iranian-backed and affiliated groups in Syria and Iraq. Earlier this week, President Joe Biden said he had made a decision on what the U.S. counterattack would be. Iran has denied it was responsible for the fatal attack on the U.S. base in Jordan on Sunday. There have been 165 attacks on U.S. troops in the region since the horrific October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, a group backed by Iran.
CENTCOM Statement on U.S. Strikes in Iraq and Syria
At 4:00 p.m. (EST) Feb. 02, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces conducted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia groups. U.S. military forces… pic.twitter.com/HeLMFDx9zY
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 2, 2024
“Well-placed sources told us that the U.S. airstrikes had begun but it looks like some of those initial explosions on the ground in Syria, it is not clear that those were caused by the U.S. military,” Griffin added this afternoon of the attacks and her reports. “We’re trying to get clarification at this point. We do believe that the campaign to respond to the death of those three Americans is anticipated to begin in the coming hours and days as we’ve been reporting and anticipating. But those initial explosions on the ground in Syria, the first reports of them, they were not caused by U.S. war planes or U.S. missiles.”
Griffin said the initial explosions on the ground in Syria were a “coincidence.” It is unclear right now who or how those explosions in Syria were caused. The reports of the American response came mere hours after Biden and top military officials attended the return of the bodies of Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders and Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett to the United States and their families.
The trio were killed January 28 while on assignment in Jordan. More than 40 other members of the military were injured in the enemy drone attack.
Also citing military sources, ABC News reported earlier Friday that the U.S. response had begun. In the fog of war, the Disney-owned entity also walked back initial reports.
ABC News has not responded to a requests from Deadline on what occurred in their reporting and checks and balances. Fox News representatives referred Deadline to what Griffin said on-air.
As Fox News and ABC were going heavy on the supposed start of America’s targeted response, CNN, MSNBC and the BBC stayed on non-military matters. The Warner Bros Discovery-owned network had an interview with the governor of Connecticut on health care cost relief. The Comcast-owned cable newser say Katy Tur talking to guests about potential congressional aid for Ukraine and Israel. The BBC had a segment on the Biden administration saying an Iranian-back group” and its drone were responsible for the death of the US military personnel on January 28.
It wasn’t until 1:10 p.m. PT that CNN went on the air with the news of the strikes, with Nic Robertson reporting from Tel Aviv. MSNBC followed soon after.
“I think we’re going to see a much larger scale of air strikes than we have seen until now,” said NBC News national security and global affairs reporter Dan De Luce. “Until now they were quite limited, quite calibrated over the past few months. This is going to be much larger scale involving a lot more aircraft, a lot more missiles, dozens of targets.”
CNN’s MJ Lee, reporting from the White House, said that the administration had not yet confirmed the strikes on the targets, but “it is hard to overstate just what a consequential decision-making process this has been for the president following the deaths of those three U.S. service members following that drone strike in Jordan.”
At around 1:26 p.m. PT, the BBC, citing CBS News, wrote that “U.S. begins strikes on Iraq and Syria”
That is a far cry from what Fox News had been saying almost 45 minutes previously.
“Eight targets have been hit in the Deir ez-Zur area of Syria, resulting in six dead,” Fox News’ Mike Tobin said this afternoon from Tel Aviv as the much-anticipated U.S. response commenced. “Everyone in the region knew some sort of a strike was coming,” the correspondent told FNC’s Martha MacCallum, citing Syrian media as his source.
The Israel-Hamas War has seen several occasions in which confusion reigned over who did what when. Back in October, the New York Times, the AP, the BBC and more put the blame for a bloody explosion at a hospital in Gaza on the IDF. The Times admitted later that it had “relied too heavily” on Hamas’ claims on the cause of the disaster.
At the time, Israeli and American officials quickly said the explosion was likely the result of a rocket out of Gaza that had blown up on launch.
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