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A United States-led coalition launched a series of strikes on Iranian forces and Tehran-backed militias in Iraq, Syria and Yemen over the weekend, as tensions continue to escalate in the Middle East amid Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Wall Street Journal reported.

On Friday, Washington launched retaliatory strikes against Iran’s Quds Forces and affiliated militias in Iraq and Syria, in response to a drone strike in Jordan late last month that killed three US troops.

Iran-backed groups were accused of launching the drone strike, but Tehran has denied any involvement and criticized the US strikes as a threat to regional and international security.

Friday’s attack also prompted condemnation from the governments of Iraq and Syria for violating their sovereignty and endangering the safety of their citizens.

Iraqi officials said 16 people died, including civilians, and 25 were wounded in western Iraq. Syrian military officials said the strikes killed a number of civilians and army personnel but did not disclose the exact figures.

Separately, US and British strikes hit Iran-backed Houthi rebels in 13 locations across Yemen on Saturday, with the Pentagon saying the attacks “targeted sites associated with the Houthis’ deeply buried weapons storage facilities, missile systems and launchers, air defense systems, and radars.”

The recent strikes follow escalating tensions across the Middle East following Israel’s invasion of Gaza in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Various Iranian-backed groups have targeted US forces in the region and commercial ships transiting the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, saying they won’t stop until Israel ends the war in Gaza.

The strikes are aimed at halting Iran’s forces and militia attacks on American troops across the Middle East, which have increased in recent months over Washington’s support for Israel against Hamas, analysts said.

Meanwhile, the strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen are part of an effort to protect shipping lanes in the Red Sea.

Even so, analysts suggested that the strikes would not deter the Tehran-affiliated militias in their assaults on US troops and ships transiting the Red Sea.

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