February 3, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Strikes IRGC and Iranian-Backed Proxies in Iraq and Syria 

February 3, 2024 | Flash Brief

U.S. Strikes IRGC and Iranian-Backed Proxies in Iraq and Syria 

Latest Developments

U.S. forces began retaliatory strikes on February 2 against Iran-backed Shiite militias and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and affiliated militia group targets in Syria and Iraq. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement that its forces struck more than 85 targets with more than 125 precision munitions. The airstrikes utilized numerous aircraft, including B-1B Lancer long-range heavy bombers — which can carry a larger payload and more diverse munitions than the fighter jets. “The facilities that were struck included command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, rockets, and missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicle storages, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities of militia groups and their IRGC sponsors who facilitated attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces,” CENTCOM added. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that the U.S. struck seven areas — three in Iraq and four in Syria.

The airstrikes came five days after Iranian proxy militias killed three U.S. servicemembers and injured 40 more in a drone attack on a U.S. military outpost in Jordan — the first deadly attack against U.S. service members after more than 165 attacks on U.S. forces in the region since mid-October. U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims said in a media briefing that the strike was delayed due to bad weather in the region during the past few days. President Joe Biden, who attended the dignified return of the fallen soldiers at Dover Air Force Base earlier that day, said that the airstrike was the beginning of the response that “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.”

Expert Analysis

“We should assess the effectiveness of these strikes by how many senior IRGC officers are killed and regime military capabilities destroyed, not by how many American bombs took out militia ammunition dumps, intelligence facilities, command and control centers, and Iraqis and Syrians fighting for Tehran. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, is happy to replenish his terror proxies with more weapons and fight the U.S. and our allies to the last militia member. What he really fears is direct American power against his regime.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“These U.S. strikes are significant, belated, and almost certainly not over. Unfortunately, Iran and its proxies undoubtedly made full use of the delay; let’s hope the Pentagon also used the time to prepare U.S. forces in the region for the inevitable responses.” Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“This was about two days late in execution but I’m glad to see it was an extensive first day of what should be an extensive, persistent cost imposition campaign. It is also good to see the use of long-range bombers that can strike multiple aim points with lower-cost weapons. The delay does mean that most IRGC officers in Iraq and Syria were long gone, which is unfortunate.” RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery, FDD Senior Fellow and Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Cyber and Technology

U.S. Has Conducted Limited Strikes

Until now, the United States has conducted only a handful of limited airstrikes in response to ongoing drone and rocket attacks at bases housing U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria. The militias that comprise Iran’s “Axis of Resistance” against Israel and the United States, had conducted attacks against U.S. troops in the region for many years, but increased the frequency of their attacks in mid-October, citing the United States’ support for Israel’s war against Hamas.

U.S. forces conducted an airstrike on weapons and ammunition storage facilities belonging to Iran’s IRGC in Syria on October 26 in response to several attacks in Iraq and Syria since October 17. As attacks continued, U.S. aircraft struck another IRGC storage facility in Syria on November 8, followed by a strike on an Iranian proxy storage facility and command center on November 13. After the militia Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq attacked Al-Asad base on January 20, U.S. forces responded by targeting three facilities used by the group and its affiliates in Iraq on January 24.

Pentagon: Deadly Attack on U.S. Soldiers Facilitated by Iran,” FDD Flash Brief

Several U.S. Servicemen Injured After Ballistic Missile Attack in Iraq,” FDD Flash Brief

U.S., UK Forces Bomb Houthis’ Advanced Weapons,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran Fires Ballistic Missiles at Iraq and Syria,” FDD Flash Brief


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Syria