*** ----> White House vows strong retaliation against Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

White House vows strong retaliation against Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria

AFP | Washington

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

The United States will press on with its retaliation against Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said yesterday, declining to say if he ruled out strikes against Iran itself.

The US and Britain on Saturday struck dozens of targets in Yemen in response to repeated attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden by Iran-backed Huthi rebels. Those strikes came the day after a separate wave of unilateral American strikes against Iran-linked targets in Iraq and Syria that were carried out in response to the killing of three US soldiers in Jordan on January 28.

“That is not the end of it. We intend to take additional strikes and additional action to continue to send a clear message that the United States will respond when our forces are attacked,” Sullivan told NBC news yesterday morning. He also told ABC that the strikes have had a “good effect” in “reducing” and “degrading” such groups’ abilities to carry out further attacks.

The US has carried out a total of 85 strikes on seven separate sites in Iraq and Syria, including on command and training centers and on weapons stocks, according to the Pentagon. Sullivan said yesterday he was unable to confirm whether the strikes had left any civilian casualties, but said the targets were “absolutely valid.”

Asked whether the US would rule out the possibility of striking Iran directly, Sullivan told NBC, “Sitting here on television, it would not be wise for me to talk about what we’re ruling in and ruling out.”