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US retaliatory airstrikes updates: White House vows to take 'more action' after deadly drone attack

The United States on Friday began to carry out airstrikes against Iran-backed militants and Iranian military targets in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for a drone attack on an American base in Jordan on Jan. 28 that killed three U.S. service members.

Dozens of other American troops were wounded in the drone attack on the Tower 22 base near Jordan's border with Iraq and Syria. The U.S. says Iran is responsible for funding and arming the militants while Iran has denied involvement.

U.S. President Joe Biden had quickly warned that America would respond forcefully, escalating U.S. involvement in the Middle East after months of trying to contain tensions from boiling over into a broader war in the region.


Latest Developments


Feb 4, 9:23 PM

Another US strike hits 4 anti-ship cruise missiles

U.S. Central Command forces conducted what CENTCOM said was a "strike in self-defense against a Houthi land attack cruise missile," earlier on Sunday.

CENTCOM confirmed the incident -- which it said was due to an "imminent threat" -- happened at 10:30 a.m. local time. U.S. forces hit four anti-ship cruise missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, which it says were "prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea."

CENTCOM said the threat was to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the area.

"These actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy vessels and merchant vessels," CENTCOM said in a release Sunday night.

-ABC News' Nathan Luna


Feb 4, 5:31 PM

More retaliatory operations planned after troop deaths, official says

The U.S. will take "more action" against Iran-backed militants in response to the deadly drone attack in Jordan last week, the White House's national security adviser said in an interview on Sunday.

"This was the beginning of our response, there will be more steps," Jake Sullivan told ABC News "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos. "Some of those steps will be seen, some may not be seen. But there will be more action taken to respond to the the tragic death of the three brave U.S. service members."

The U.S. has blamed Iran-backed fighters for the attack on Tower 22 in Jordan on Jan. 28.

Iran has denied involvement. Pressed by Stephanopoulos whether additional strikes could escalation tension with Iran, Sullivan said it's something the U.S. is prepared for.

"This is something that we have to look at as a threat," he said. "We have to prepare for every contingency, and we are prepared for that contingency. And I would just say, from the perspective of Tehran, if they chose to respond directly to the United States, they would be met with a swift and forceful response from us."

-ABC News' Fritz Farrow


Feb 3, 11:05 PM

US destroys anti-ship cruise missile in Yemen: CENTCOM

Early Sunday morning, the United States conducted a strike "in self-defense against a Houthi anti-ship cruise missile prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea," a statement from the U.S. Central Command forces said.

Around 4 a.m. locally, U.S. forces identified a cruise missile in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined it presented an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region, according to CENTCOM.

According to the release, "This action will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy vessels and merchant vessels."


Feb 3, 11:03 PM

Airstrikes on Yemen aim to stop attacks against US ships and international commercial vessels

The round of airstrikes launched by the U.S. and U.K. on Saturday “further degraded the Houthis’ capability to continue their illegal and reckless attacks" against U.S. ships and international commercial vessels, according to a senior U.S. administration official.

PHOTO: The U.S. and U.K. led a coalition of strikes against Houthis in Yemen focused on degrading the Houthis capabilities in shipping attacks, US officials say, stressing that the strikes are unrelated to strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Central Command)
PHOTO: The U.S. and U.K. led a coalition of strikes against Houthis in Yemen focused on degrading the Houthis capabilities in shipping attacks, US officials say, stressing that the strikes are unrelated to strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Central Command)


"The U.S. does not want escalation, and these strikes are directly in response to the actions by the Iranian-backed Houthis," the senior administration official said. "They are unrelated to the action the United States took on Friday in response to the continued attacks on our troops and facilities in Iraq and Syria."

The official emphasizes that the U.S. has “rallied a global coalition” to condemn and hold the Houthis accountable, adding that this is the third round of strikes as part of the coalition that includes the U.S., UK, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, the Netherlands, and now also Denmark and New Zealand.

-ABC News' Selina Wang


Feb 3, 6:05 PM

Correction: Strikes on Houthis in Yemen not in response to attack on troops in Jordan, per US officials

The U.S. and U.K. led a coalition of strikes against Houthis in Yemen focused on degrading the Houthis capabilities in shipping attacks, US officials say, stressing that the strikes are unrelated to strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria on Friday which were in response to the attack on U.S. troops in Jordan. Earlier reporting said the attacks on Yemen were in response to the attack on U.S. troops in Jordan.

While the timing may be coincidental, both the militia groups in Iraq and Syria, and the Houthis are backed by Iran, U.S. officials say. But when asked if there was an intended message for Iran as well, the U.S. officials said they did not want to focus on Iran and instead kept the discussion about how each of the airstrikes was intended to deter and degrade Iran’s local proxies.


Feb 3, 10:41 PM

Austin warns Houthis to end attacks on shipping vessels

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released a statement saying the strikes on Yemen aim to "disrupt and degrade the capabilities of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia" from continuing to attack vessels in the Red Sea.

The strikes targeted Houthis' deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defense systems, and radars, according to a statement from Austin.

PHOTO: The U.S. and U.K. led a coalition of strikes against Houthis in Yemen focused on degrading the Houthis capabilities in shipping attacks, US officials say, stressing that the strikes are unrelated to strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Central Command)
PHOTO: The U.S. and U.K. led a coalition of strikes against Houthis in Yemen focused on degrading the Houthis capabilities in shipping attacks, US officials say, stressing that the strikes are unrelated to strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Central Command)


"This collective action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels," Austin said.

He added, "We will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world's most critical waterways."

-ABC News' Nate Luna


Feb 3, 10:38 PM

US, UK launch strikes against 36 Houthi targets in Yemen

The militaries of the U.S. and U.K. launched strikes against 36 Houthi targets in Yemen, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand, the countries said in a joint statement Saturday.

The strikes targeted 13 locations in Yemen in response to the Houthis' continued attacks against international and commercial shipping as well as naval vessels transiting the Red Sea, the statement said.

PHOTO: The U.S. and U.K. led a coalition of strikes against Houthis in Yemen focused on degrading the Houthis capabilities in shipping attacks, US officials say, stressing that the strikes are unrelated to strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Central Command)
PHOTO: The U.S. and U.K. led a coalition of strikes against Houthis in Yemen focused on degrading the Houthis capabilities in shipping attacks, US officials say, stressing that the strikes are unrelated to strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Central Command)


"These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade, and the lives of innocent mariners, and are in response to a series of illegal, dangerous, and destabilizing Houthi actions since previous coalition strikes on January 11 and 22, 2024, including the January 27 attack which struck and set ablaze the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker M/V Marlin Luanda," the statement said.

-ABC News' Nate Luna


Feb 3, 5:24 PM

US strikes begin in Yemen

The next round of retaliatory strikes for the attack in Jordan are ongoing in Yemen at this time, three U.S. officials confirmed to ABC News.

The strikes are in addition to the six anti-ship missiles that were taken out, also in Yemen, earlier in the day.

-ABC News' Nate Luna


Feb 3, 2:37 PM

29 members of Iranian militias killed in strikes on Syria

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group which reports on war in Syria, confirmed that 29 members of Iranian militias were killed in airstrikes on 28 positions.

Separately, Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces, a state security force including Iran-backed groups, said that 16 its members were killed including fighters and medics.


Feb 3, 12:10 PM

Hezbollah condemns US strikes in Iraq, Syria

In a statement on Saturday, the Hezbollah terrorist organization strongly condemned the U.S.'s strikes on Iraq and Syria and extended its sympathies for the lives lost.

"What the United States of America did is a blatant violation of the sovereignty of the two countries, an attack on their security and territorial integrity, and a shameless violation of all international and humanitarian laws," Hezbollah said.

"This new aggression contributes to destabilizing the region, and creating false justifications and pretexts for the continuation of the American occupation of several regions in Iraq and Syria against the will of their people who yearn for freedom and independence," Hezbollah said.

U.S. officials said Friday that targets were chosen to avoid civilian casualties and because they were connected to enabling the attacks against American service members.

-ABC News' Ghazi Balkiz and Aras Maman

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