US approves plan to strike Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq, officials say

The US has approved plans for a series of strikes on Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq, officials have told the BBC’s US partner CBS News.

The strikes will take place over a number of days, officials said, and weather conditions will likely dictate when they are launched.

It comes after a drone attack killed three US soldiers in Jordan, close to the Syrian border, on Sunday.

The US blamed an Iranian-backed militia group for that attack.

That group, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, is believed to contain multiple militias that have been armed, funded and trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards force. It has said it was responsible for Sunday’s strike.

Iran, meanwhile, has denied any role in the attack which injured 41 other US troops at the military base, known as Tower 22.

At a news conference on Thursday, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US would “not tolerate attacks on American troops”.

“We will take all necessary actions to defend the United States, our interests and our people,” he said. “We will respond where we choose, when we choose and how we choose.”

The officials who spoke to CBS News did not give an exact timeline on the potential strikes. They said the US military could launch them in bad weather, but prefers to have better visibility to reduce the risk of inadvertently hitting civilians.

While the US has repeatedly pledged to respond to the drone attack, President Joe Biden and other defence officials have said Washington is not seeking a wider war with Iran or an escalation of tensions in the region.