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The U.S. targets Iranian proxies for a second day in a row

U.S. Central Command released this undated photo as part of its announcement of renewed airstrikes against Houthi targets on Saturday.
U.S. Central Command
U.S. Central Command released this undated photo as part of its announcement of renewed airstrikes against Houthi targets on Saturday.

Updated February 4, 2024 at 9:35 AM ET

The U.S. struck Iranian-linked targets in the Middle East for a second consecutive day Saturday.

The U.S. and allies hit 36 Houthi targets at 13 locations in Yemen, the Pentagon said Saturday. On Friday, the U.S. struck facilities in Iraq and Syria, as part of a broader campaign that U.S officials say is in retaliation for a drone attack that killed three American soldiers. The U.S. says it struck Iran-backed proxies in each country.

The Pentagon said the U.K., Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand were involved in Saturday's strikes against Houthi targets, saying they were in response to Houthi attacks targeting international shipping vessels.

U.S. Central Command said strikes targeted "multiple underground storage facilities, command and control, missile systems, UAV storage and operations sites, radars, and helicopters" used by the Houthis.

The current round of U.S. strikes is more extensive and deadly than those from the previous few months.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the Houthis will "continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels."

The attacks come in response to a drone attack on a U.S. support base in Jordan on Jan. 28 that killed three Army Reserve soldiers. An Iranian-backed militia group claimed responsibility for the attack. It was the highest death toll of U.S. troops in the Middle East in at least a decade.

Iran's foreign ministry called the attacks a "strategic mistake" and said they "will have no other result other than intensifying tensions and instability in the region."

Iranian-backed militias have mounted more than 165 drone, missile and rocket attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan would not rule out strikes within Iran when asked about that possibility Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press.

"Well, sitting here today on a national news program, I'm not going to get into what we've ruled in and ruled out from the point of view of military action," Sullivan said. "What I will say is that the president is determined to respond forcefully to attacks on our people. The president also is not looking for a wider war in the Middle East."

Sullivan did say that strikes against the militias will continue.

"It began with strikes on Friday night but that is not the end of it," he told NBC. "We intend to take additional strikes and additional action to continue to send a clear message that that the United States will respond when our forces are attacked, or people are killed."

The latest strikes came on the same day that U.S. military officials say U.S. forces destroyed six Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles in Yemen in "self-defense," saying that the missiles were to be used against ships in the Red Sea.

U.S. and British forces have carried out multiple attacks against Houthi military facilities, as the Iranian-backed group has continued to target commercial shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

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Corrected: February 4, 2024 at 12:00 AM EST
An earlier version of this story misstated Jake Sullivan's response to questions about strikes within Iraq. The national security adviser was asked about attacks within Iran, which he said he would not rule in or out.
NPR Washington Desk