According to the United States, American forces attacked 85 targets in Iraq and Syria on the night of Saturday.
– On my order, US forces have hit facilities in Iraq and Syria that are used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and militias associated with them, said President Joe Biden.
According to the exile group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), at least 18 Iranian-backed militiamen were killed in US strikes in eastern Syria, five of them in Deir al-Zor.
In Iraq, the American attacks claimed at least 16 lives, including civilians, says Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani. He strongly condemns the attacks.
– The US-led coalition threatens security and stability in Iraq and draws Iraq into regional and international conflicts, he says.
Iran also condemns the attacks, calling it a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria.
– This was another strategic blunder by the US which will only lead to more tension and instability in the region, says a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Nasser Kanaani.
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Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide condemns the attacks against US forces in Iraq and Syria and at the same time supports the US decision to respond militarily.
– We understand the US’s need to respond to the attacks, he says to NRK.
– It is important that all actors now contribute to calming the situation and avoid further escalation, he adds.
The Islamic Resistance Movement in Iraq, an umbrella organization of several Iran-backed militia groups, claimed in the morning hours that it had responded by attacking three US military bases in the region.
They told Al Jazeera that they had attacked the al-Tanf base in Syria, the Ain al-Asad base in western Iraq and the al-Harir base in Kurdish northern Iraq.
Security sources in northern Iraq deny to Reuters that the al-Harir base was attacked, and the Norwegian Armed Forces’ operational headquarters in Norway deny to NTB that any attack has been registered against the Ain al-Asad base where around 30 Norwegian soldiers are stationed.
– There should not have been any attack on our base, says spokesperson Hanne Olafsen.
– We are following the situation closely and making ongoing security assessments, she adds.
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The Norwegian soldiers at the Ain al-Asad base are part of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the US-led coalition which, since 2014, has assisted Iraq in fighting the extremist jihadist group IS.
The base is located around 200 kilometers from the border with Syria and is used, among other things, as a base for American drones that attack targets in the region.
– The defense has several force contributions in the Middle East, including in Jordan, but none of these are affected by the attacks in Syria and Iraq, says Olafsen.
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Military base in Jordan
Last weekend, three US soldiers were killed and over 30 wounded when Iran-backed militia attacked the US military base Tower 22, in north-east Jordan.
The Islamic Resistance Movement in Iraq claimed that they were behind the attack.
American intelligence concluded that it was probably the most powerful group in the movement, Kataib Hezbollah, who was behind it.
Kataib Hezbollah, which is not to be confused with Hezbollah in Lebanon, has not confirmed this.
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