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DEVELOPING: U.S. Launches Retaliatory Airstrikes on Iranian-Backed Militias Following Deadly Attacks Against U.S. Forces

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The United States has initiated a series of airstrikes targeting Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, responding to a drone strike by militants on a U.S. military outpost in Jordan. The attack in Jordan resulted in the death of three U.S. service members and left over 40 others wounded.

President Joe Biden, who recently attended a dignified transfer for the fallen soldiers, authorized the strikes that are expected to be more substantial than previous actions against Iranian-backed militias. The administration aims to deter further attacks while avoiding a full-scale conflict with Iran, given the already volatile situation in the Middle East with the Israel-Hamas war.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the U.S. response would be “multi-tiered,” emphasizing the ability to respond as needed. The Biden administration faces pressure to halt militia attacks decisively, as Iran-backed militants have targeted U.S. military facilities in Iraq and Syria over 160 times since October.

While several Republican lawmakers advocated for direct strikes inside Iran, the administration emphasizes proportionate responses to prevent escalation. John Kirby, from the National Security Council, emphasized that the U.S. does not seek a war with Iran or a broader conflict in the Middle East.

The White House attributes the drone attack in Jordan to an umbrella group known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which includes multiple groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah. Despite suspending military operations against U.S. forces, Kata’ib Hezbollah’s leader suggested continued attacks on U.S. targets, creating uncertainty about the militias’ intentions.

The U.S. has targeted Iranian proxies’ weapons depots in Iraq and Syria since October, but these strikes did not deter the militants, leading to the recent escalation. Iran, while claiming not to seek conflict, vows a strong response to perceived aggression.

The situation remains fluid, with the U.S. signaling potential further actions in the coming days as tensions persist in the region.

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International

Report: North Korean ballistic missile fired by Russia into Ukraine contained components sourced from U.S.

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A new report from Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a U.K.-based investigative organization, determined that a North Korean ballistic missile which was fired by Russia into Ukraine contained “numerous” electronic components sourced from the U.S. and Europe.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported on the findings, noting approximately 75% of the 290 components analyzed in the missile originated from U.S.-based companies, and an additional 16% of components came from European firms, according to the CAR report.

The electronic components came from 26 countries in total and were largely utilized in the missile’s navigation system, according to the report. It isn’t clear how the components ended up in North Korea’s possession, as the country is strictly sanctioned by a bulk of the international community, but it’s possible other foreign companies, acting as middlemen, bought the components and then diverted them to the communist country.

However, the fact that North Korea was able to acquire so many American electronic component parts suggests “that the country has developed a robust acquisition network capable of circumventing, without detection, sanction regimes that have been in place for nearly two decades,” according to the report.

CAR documents “weapons at the point of use and track their sources back through the chains of supply.”North Korea gathered the components, assembled the missile and shipped it to Russia, all within a relatively short time period, according to the report. The missile was recovered by CAR on Jan. 2, and the investigators determined it could not have been manufactured before March 2023.

The U.S. government and intelligence agencies are working to stop sensitive American intellectual property from ending up in the hands of several foreign adversaries. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin have strengthened their relationship since Russia first invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“Due in part to our export and sanction controls, Russia has become increasingly isolated on the world stage, and they’ve been forced to look to like-minded states for military equipment,” White House National Security Council (NSC) spokesman John Kirby said during a press briefing in January. “One of those states is North Korea.”

 

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