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U.S. strikes have begun in Iraq and Syria

President Joe Biden attended the dignified transfer of the three American soldiers killed in Jordan, as he readied the U.S. campaign of retaliatory strikes.

What we know

Coverage on this live blog has ended. Please click here for the latest updates.

NBC News

Video appears to show the fire and secondary effects from a U.S. airstrike in Iraq.

An Iraqi security official told NBC News that a strike targeted a weapons warehouse and three houses belonging to Kata’ib Hezbollah in Anbar Province, which is in western Iraq.

Analysis: Strikes underscore Iran's presence in the region

Keir Simmons

Mo Abbas

Keir Simmons and Mo Abbas

ERBIL, Iraq — Initial reports from the region suggest that the focus of tonight’s U.S. attacks have been Anbar province in Iraq and Deir ez-Zor governorate in Syria. The strikes ran along the same border that connects to Jordan and Tower 22, where three American service members were killed. They also hit areas home to the Iranian-backed militia accused of carrying out last Sunday’s deadly attack.

“This is by far the most expansive military action we’ve seen against Iran’s proxies in Syria and Iraq to date,” said Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. “That makes it a significant development.”

The scale and scope of tonight’s strikes also underscore how embedded Iran has become in this region. There are many more places with ties to Iran that the U.S. could have hit but has chosen not to in this first stage. They include known Iranian facilities around Damascus and Aleppo airports, sites targeted by the Israelis last year.

While this is a substantial strike by the U.S., an escalation, it is so far also limited. The question is whether it is enough to change Iran’s long term strategy of pressuring Israel and pushing America out of the region.

“In terms of measuring how maximalist or minimalist we could have been, this sits somewhere in the middle, Lister said. “I’d count on the militias feeling relatively confident that they’ll be targeting Americans again not too long from now.”

'No communication' with Iran since drone strike, official says

There has been “no communication” between the U.S. and Iran since the drone strike last weekend that killed three U.S. servicemembers in Jordan, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

Kirby was responding to a question about whether Iran had been given advance warning of the U.S. strikes.

A number of the targets that were struck were those “that move across many different aspects of the Iranian, the Iranian aligned militia groups in Iraq and Syria,” Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II said.

“And I would say I feel that we confidently struck targets that will impact their ability to conduct future strikes against Americans,” Sims said.

Strikes occurred over about 30 minutes

The U.S. attacks today occurred over the course of about 30 minutes, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

The aircraft used included the long-range B-1 bomber, Kirby said. More than 125 guided munitions used in the attacks, he said at a briefing with reporters.

The B-1 bombers were dispatched from the United States, Kirby said. The B-1 is a long-range bomber that the Air Force describes on its website as “the backbone of America’s long-range bomber force.”

All the U.S. aircraft traveled out of harm's way safely, he said.

House Speaker Johnson criticizes wait on U.S. strikes

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson criticized the timing of the U.S. military strikes against Iranian-backed militia and the Biden administration for “telegraphing” a response to Iran.

“The tragic deaths of three U.S. troops in Jordan, perpetrated by Iran-backed militias, demanded a clear and forceful response. Unfortunately, the administration waited for a week and telegraphed to the world, including to Iran, the nature of our response,” Johnson, R-Louisiana said.

President Biden on Sunday said that the U.S. would retaliate and “hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner [of] our choosing.”

Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II told reporters after the strikes in Iraq and Syria that they waited for favorable weather, and “good weather presented itself today.”

Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the strikes strong.

"This was a strong, proportional response. In fact, the 85 targets struck tonight mark a greater number than the prior administration," Reed said in a statement. "Iran’s proxy forces in Syria and Iraq have been dealt a significant blow, and Iranian-linked militias around the Middle East should understand that they, too, will be held accountable."

Response won't end tonight, NSC spokesman says

Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner

Phil Helsel and Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the U.S.'s response to the Sunday drone attack in Jordan that killed three U.S. personnel and injured several others is not going to end today.

“These responses began tonight, but they’re not going to end tonight,” he said.

U.S. conducted strikes knowing there would likely be casualties

When the United States struck Iranian-backed militia targets in Iraq and Syria today, they did so knowing that there would likely be casualties, officials said.

Militants and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps use the facilities that were struck in retaliation for a drone attack that killed three U.S. service members, Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II said.

He said that the U.S. feels good about the precision of the strikes and that they were strong military targets.

The military made the strikes understanding there would likely be casualties, Sims said. A number of casualties was not immediately clear from officials.

U.S. waited for favorable weather for strikes, official says

Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner

Phil Helsel and Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner

The United States was waiting on favorable weather to hit Iran-backed militia targets in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for a drone attack that killed three U.S. service members, officials said.

“This was designed around the weather, when we had our best opportunity,” Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II said.

“Good weather presented itself today. And as a result, this was take — this took place,” he said.

U.S. strike in Iraq targeted weapons warehouse, sites used by Iran-linked militia

U.S. airstrikes targeted a weapons warehouse in Iraq as well as three houses used by an Iran-aligned militia organization, an Iraqi security official told NBC News.

The three houses in Anbar province in western Iraq were used by members of Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iran-linked militia group that has been sanctioned by the U.S. government.

The security official spoke to NBC News on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment to the news media.

NSC spokesman says U.S. forces struck 3 facilities in Iraq, 4 in Syria

Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner

Daniel Arkin and Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that U.S. military forces struck a total of seven facilities used by Iran-linked militias.

"Three of the facilities are in Iraq. Four of them are in Syria," Kirby said.

He said the Iraqi government was informed prior to the strikes.

Kirby, echoing Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, told reporters that the U.S. forces hit more than 85 targets at those facilities. U.S. Central Command said in a post on X that the facilities included command and control operations centers, intelligence centers and drone storage sites.

Iraqi army blasts U.S. strikes as 'violation' of sovereignty

Khalid Razak

Khalid Razak and Daniel Arkin

The Iraqi army condemned the U.S. airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraqi border areas, calling the air assault a "violation of Iraqi sovereignty" and "a threat that will drag Iraq and the region into unforeseen consequences."

Yahya Rasool Abdullah, a spokesman for the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, asserted that the "strikes come at a time when Iraq is striving to ensure the stability of the region."

U.S. military forces hit more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for the killing of three American soldiers in Jordan last weekend.

Kelly O'Donnell

NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell reports on how targets were chosen for the military strike operation and what is still unknown, including whether there are targets that are not visible — such as in the cyber realm.

Defense Secretary Austin says U.S. forces struck 7 facilities

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said U.S. military forces conducted air strikes against seven facilities, hitting more than 85 targets.

"This is the start of our response," Austin said, echoing language used earlier by President Joe Biden.

"The President has directed additional actions to hold the IRGC and affiliated militias accountable for their attacks on U.S. and Coalition Forces," Austin added.

Biden says U.S. military response 'will continue at times and places of our choosing'

President Joe Biden said in a statement that the U.S. military response to the killing of three U.S. soldiers "began today," and it "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," Biden said. "But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond."

The White House is seeking to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from spiraling into a wider regional conflict while working to secure Biden's re-election.

U.S. retaliatory strikes start in Iraq and Syria in first response to Jordan drone attack

The United States launched attacks in Iraq and Syria on Friday, its first retaliatory strikes for the killing of three American soldiers, according to a U.S. defense official.

The military action is a significant escalation in Washington’s bid to deter the growing threat from Iran-backed groups across the Middle East — a step fraught with risk abroad and at home, as President Joe Biden seeks to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from spiraling into a wider conflict while working to secure his re-election.

The Biden administration had made clear that the U.S. would take military action after the drone attack by Iran-backed militants at a remote U.S. base in Jordan, in which more than 40 others were wounded.

Read the full story here.


U.S. strikes have begun in Iraq and Syria, U.S. defense official confirms

Mosheh Gains

A Defense Official confirms to NBC News that U.S. strikes have begun in Iraq and Syria.

Airstrikes targeting Iranian militia in eastern Syria result in casualties, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says

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Ammar Cheikh Omar

Charlene Gubash

Mirna Alsharif, Ammar Cheikh Omar and Charlene Gubash

Four rounds of airstrikes targeted Iranian militia positions in parts of the Deir Ezzor governate in eastern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The airstrikes targeted positions in Al-Haidariya in the Al-Mayadeen desert as well as the shrine of Ain Ali and Al-Shibli in the countryside of the city of Al-Mayadeen, east of the Deir ez-Zor governate.

"Six Iranian backed militiamen were killed, including at least 3 of non-Syrian nationalities" as a result of the airstrikes, according to the group. Four others were injured.

It's not clear at this time who is responsible for the airstrikes.

Blinken to travel to Mideast as U.S. prepares retaliation for death of soldiers, possible recognition of Palestianian state

Abigail Williams

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to the Middle East on Sunday, his fifth trip to the region since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, the State Department announced today.

Next week, Blinken will visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel and the West Bank. He'll continue his diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the remaining hostages held in Gaza as part of an agreement on an extended humanitarian pause, one that will also hopefully increase the flow of aid to civilians in the enclave as the war enters its fourth month.

The trip comes amid fears of a widening conflict as the U.S. prepares their response to a drone attack by Iranian backed militants which killed three U.S. soldiers and injured dozens of others at a base in northeast Jordan.

The visit also comes as the Biden administration explores options for the formal recognition of a Palestinian state, which a senior administration official tells NBC News could come before reaching a final comprehensive deal with Israel.

Wait for U.S. retaliatory strikes gives Iran-linked militias plenty of time to prepare

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Keir Simmons

Mo Abbas

Khalid Razak

Keir Simmons, Mo Abbas and Khalid Razak

ERBIL, Iraq — U.S. forces have multiple targets to pick from as they prepare a forceful response to the deaths of three American service members in a drone attack Sunday in Jordan, experts say. But after Washington has hinted at retaliatory strikes for days, Iran-backed militant groups across the Middle East have had plenty of time to ready themselves.

American forces are expected to hit targets in countries outside Iran in response to the drone strike, U.S. officials told NBC News on Thursday. The operation will likely be President Joe Biden’s most forceful response yet to militia groups that have launched more than 160 attacks against U.S. forces since the war between Israel and Hamas started in Gaza on Oct. 7. 

U.S. Strikes Hit Yemen's Houthi Rebels
U.S. forces conduct strikes on the Houthi rebels in Yemen on Jan. 11, 2024.U.S. Central Command / Reuters

“At this point, it’s time to take away even more capability than we’ve taken in the past,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday at a news conference. How much Tehran knew about the attack on the Tower 22 in Jordan that killed Spc. Kennedy Sanders, Spc. Breonna Moffet and Sgt. William Jerome Rivers “really doesn’t matter because Iran sponsors these groups,” he added. 

“Without that facilitation, these kinds of things don’t happen,” Austin said of the strike, which also injured more than 30 service members and which the U.S. has attributed to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias that includes the militant group Kataib Hezbollah.

Read the full story here. 

Netanyahu says U.S. sanctions on Israeli settlers in West Bank are ‘unnecessary’

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the majority of Israeli residents in the West Bank are “law-abiding citizens,” calling U.S. sanctions targeting extremist settlers “unnecessary” and “exceptional.”

"Israel acts against all Israelis who break the law, everywhere; therefore, exceptional measures are unnecessary," the office said in a statement yesterday.

Earlier yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the State Department would sanction four Israelis involved in violence against civilians in the West Bank after President Joe Biden issued an executive order urging Israel to do more to stop the violence.

Hamas wants full withdrawal of Israeli army from Gaza in any cease-fire agreement

Hamas wants a "complete end to the aggression" in Gaza and the withdrawal of Israel's army from the strip as part of ongoing talks of a proposed cease-fire agreement, the group said in a statement issued today by the office of the head of the Hamas movement, Ismail Haniyeh.

The group also wants "the lifting of the siege, reconstruction, and entry of all life requirements" to Gaza as well as "the completion of an integrated exchange deal."

Hamas did not elaborate what the integrated exchange deal would entail.

Earlier, the group said it wanted a permanent cease-fire in Gaza and the release of Palestinian prisoners, including the popular Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouti, according to The Associated Press.

Freed Palestinian detainees complain of mistreatment in Israeli prisons

NBC News

A group of Palestinian detainees spoke to NBC News after they arrived at a Rafah Hospital following their release from Israeli prisons.

More than 800 U.S. and European officials denounce their governments’ support for Israel's war in Gaza

Victoria Di Gioacchino

Victoria Di Gioacchino and Mirna Alsharif

More than 800 U.S. and European officials issued a statement today protesting their governments’ support of Israel in its war in Gaza.

The statement, titled "It Is Our Duty To Speak Out When Our Governments’ Policies Are Wrong," was coordinated by civil servants in the European Union and the United States who say "Israel has shown no boundaries in its military operations in Gaza which has resulted in tens of thousands of preventable civilian deaths."

"Our governments have provided the Israeli military operation with public, diplomatic and military support; that this support has been given without real conditions or accountability; and that when faced with humanitarian catastrophe, our governments have failed to call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to blockages of necessary food/water/medicine in Gaza," the statement read.

The officials called upon their governments and institutions to "stop asserting to the public that there is a strategic and defensible rationale behind the Israeli operation and that supporting it is in our countries’ interests," as well as to hold Israel accountable to "international humanitarian and human rights standards applied elsewhere and to forcefully respond to attacks against civilians, as we are doing in our support to the Ukrainian people."

UNICEF: At least 17,000 children are separated from their parents, with many suffering 'extremely high levels of persistent anxiety'

At least 17,000 children in Gaza are unaccompanied or separated from their parents, the United Nations’ agency for children said today.

This corresponds to 1% of the overall displaced population of Gaza, UNICEF spokesperson Jonathan Crickx said at a briefing in Geneva.

Children’s mental health is also severely impacted, Crickx said, with symptoms such as extremely high levels of persistent anxiety and loss of appetite. Children struggle to sleep and have emotional outbursts or panic attacks when they hear the sound of bombs, he added.

"Before this war, UNICEF was considering that more than 500,000 children were already in need of mental health and psychosocial support in the Gaza Strip," Crickx said. "Today, we estimate that almost all children are in need of [it], more than 1 million children."

"The only way to have this mental health and psychosocial support delivered at scale is with a cease-fire," he added.

Palestinians line up for free food distribution in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, Feb. 2, 2024.
Palestinians line up for free food distribution in Khan Younis today.Hatem Ali / AP

Hamas wants permanent cease-fire, release of Marwan Barghouti

The Associated Press

Hamas officials said today that the group is studying a proposed cease-fire deal that would include prolonged pauses in fighting in Gaza and swaps of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, but at the same time appeared to rule out some of its key components.

Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official in Beirut, said the group remains committed to its initial demands for a permanent cease-fire. Hamdan also said the group seeks the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners being held for acts related to the conflict with Israel, including those serving life sentences. He mentioned two by name, including Marwan Barghouti, a popular Palestinian uprising leader seen as a unifying figure.

Barghouti, 61, a former Fatah militant commander, is serving five life sentences in Israel following a 2004 terrorism conviction. Many Palestinians view Barghouti as a revolutionary leader in the mold of Nelson Mandela or Fidel Castro, unsullied by the corruption of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority or the long-running feud between Fatah and Hamas. As a long-jailed militant, he is seen as having sacrificed his freedom for the cause of Palestinian independence.

From behind bars, he has continued to call for a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands Israel seized in the 1967 war. Polls consistently show him to be the most popular Palestinian leader, with support from across the political spectrum.

IDF said it killed more than 20 Hamas members in Gaza

Israeli forced killed more than 20 Hamas members in Khan Younis yesterday, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on Telegram today, as its operation to "dismantle" the organization continues.

A Hamas squad that fired "several anti-tank missiles" was also struck by the IDF, it added.

NBC News was unable to independently verify the claims.

The IDF says it is moving operations beyond Khan Younis toward Rafah, 6 miles south and on the border with Egypt. More than a million displaced Palestinians are seeking refuge in Rafah.

New poll finds half of U.S. adults say Israel has gone too far in the war in Gaza, a rise driven by shifting Republican sentiment

Some 50% of the adults in the U.S. believe Israeli operations in Gaza have “gone too far,” according to a poll conducted from Jan. 25 to 28 by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The figure is up from 40% in November, indicating a change in views across the board among Americans — especially Republicans — over the issue.

While the sentiment that Israel has gone too far increased among both Democrats and independents, it nearly doubled for Republicans, from 18% in November to 33% in January.

The poll also found that 35% of U.S. adults view Israel as an ally that shares U.S. interests and values, a similar percentage as in August before the war broke out, but down 9% from November.

A similar proportion of Americans, 36%, say the U.S. is not supportive enough of Palestinians, up from 31% in December.

Released Palestinian detainee alleges 'humiliating' treatment by Israeli forces

A Palestinian man who was released from Israeli detention has alleged a group of them were blindfolded and poorly treated while they were held.

Speaking to an NBC News crew at the Abu Youssef El-Najjer Hospital in southern Gaza, Mahmoud Hussein Salam said he was arrested last week in Khan Younis.

“When they first arrested us, they stripped us of our clothes, all of us,” he said, “They made us wear a nylon suit. We stayed for two days. We ate under threat of a weapon, and we sat on the floor with water in the rain and cold.”

NBC News has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces for comment.

Asked if he knew where they were taken, Salam said he could not say “because our eyes were blindfolded.”

Describing their treatment as “humiliating,” Salam, whose wrists were bandaged, said a group of men were beaten up by Israeli forces.

“My hand has wounds from the handcuffs,” he added. His hand appeared visibly swollen and bruised.

He added that Israeli troops “hit us with the buttstock; when you fell on the ground, they continued to beat you in your legs.”

Hisham Adwan, a spokesman for the Gaza border crossing, confirmed that 114 Palestinian detainees crossed into Gaza via the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing on Thursday morning.

Adwan said that the prisoners were in a “difficult health condition,” and were reunited with their families as they sought medical attention at the hospital.

Israeli strikes hit targets near Damascus, Syrian state media reports

Israel struck targets to the south of the Syrian capital, Damascus, state media in the country reported today citing an unnamed military source.

The strikes were launched from the direction of the Golan Heights, the SANA news agency reported, adding that property was the only thing that was damaged.

NBC News approached the Israel Defense Forces for comment.

Israel annexed the 460-square-mile Golan Heights in 1981, a move that was not recognized by the international community. Syria demands the return of the strategic plateau, which also overlooks Lebanon and borders Jordan.

Rafah a 'pressure cooker of despair' as Gazans flee south, U.N. says

Gaza’s overcrowded southern city of Rafah is turning into a “pressure cooker of despair” as thousands of people continue to flee there from intense fighting in nearby Khan Younis, the United Nations' aid coordination office said today. 

The warning comes as Israel said it will move its military operations farther south toward Rafah, which sits on the border with Egypt. Thousands of Gazans fled to the city after the Israeli military moved into the north of enclave and told people to move south.

“Rafah is now a pressure cooker of despair and we fear for what happens next,” said Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “In recent days, thousands of Palestinians have been fleeing to the south to Rafah, which is already hosting over half of Gaza’s population of some 2.3 million people,” he added.

Laerke said most of the new arrivals are already living out in the open or in makeshift structures and tents, raising concerns about the escalating humanitarian crisis.

Palestinians face extreme hunger as Israel blocks aid entry to Gaza
Palestinians wait to receive food in Rafah yesterday.Abed Zagout / Anadolu via Getty Images

Turkish police rescue hostages held at gunpoint for hours in Gaza protest

Associated Press

Police have rescued seven hostages held at gunpoint for hours at a factory owned by U.S. company Procter & Gamble in northwest Turkey, local officials said early today.

A gunman had sparked the standoff at the P&G facility in Gebze, Kocaeli province, in protest against the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, Gov. Seddar Yavuz was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Police initiated the rescue after 10 hours of negotiation failed. “Our esteemed police members and our heroic security forces made the necessary intervention as soon as we were sure that no harm would come to the hostages,” Yavuz said.

Previous reports said two suspects had taken P&G staff prisoner, but Yavuz said it was a former employee acting alone.

Biden weighs how the response to Iran could affect Israel-Hamas negotiations — and his own political fate

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Carol E. LeeCarol E. Lee is the Washington managing editor.

President Joe Biden speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast at the Capitol on Feb. 1, 2024.
Shawn Thew / EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Meeting privately with national security aides this week, Biden raised a question, two people briefed on the discussion said: If he ordered military action to avenge the deaths of three U.S. soldiers in Jordan, would that jeopardize the delicate talks over the release of American hostages in Gaza?

When aides eased such concerns, he decided that he would proceed with retaliatory measures, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s calculus.

Biden settled on a counterattack plan that is expected to unfold over multiple days, possibly weeks, U.S. officials told NBC News.

The operation, which officials say hasn’t begun, figures to be Biden’s most forceful response yet to militia groups that have launched more than 150 attacks against U.S. forces since the war between Israel and Hamas started.

Read the full story here.

U.N. agency renews funding plea for Palestinians’ 'sheer survival'

The main U.N. aid agency for Gaza has appealed to donors to restore funding, warning of the “colossal” humanitarian needs in the Palestinian enclave as the southern region of Rafah is forced to shelter the majority of the population.

“Rafah has become a sea of people fleeing bombardments,” Thomas White, director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza and U.N. deputy humanitarian ccoordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, said in a statement.

Gaza's population depends on the agency for its "sheer survival," it said, adding the agency is managing overcrowded shelters, food assistance and primary health care, the conditions of which are only getting worse.

“It’s difficult to imagine that Gazans will survive this crisis without UNRWA,” White said.  

A number of countries suspended their funding of the agency amid an investigation into Israeli accusations that some workers participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

Crowded streets in Rafah, southern Gaza.
People who fled fighting in the Gaza Strip gather along an overcrowded street in Rafah yesterday.Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images

Iran not looking for war but will take ‘strong response’ if bullied, president says

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said today that his country will not start a war but would retaliate against bullies with a “strong response.”

“In the past, whenever they (the West) wanted to talk with Iran, they mentioned the military option being on the table, but now they say they don’t seek any conflict with Iran,” he said in a televised speech.

“We will not start any war but, if anyone wants to bully us, they will receive a strong response,” Raisi added.

The statement came as Biden readies retaliation for the drone strike by an Iran-backed group that killed three U.S. soldiers in Jordan. Iran denied involvement in the incident.

Biden to attend dignified transfer for U.S. service members killed in Jordan

Garrett Grumbach, Megan Lebowitz and Aaron Gilchrist

DOVER, Del. — Biden will perform one of the most solemn duties of his office today when he attends the dignified transfer of the three American soldiers killed in Jordan this week in a drone strike that the U.S. has attributed to Iranian-backed militant groups.

Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Sgt. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, Sgt. Kennedy Ladon Sanders.
Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Sgt. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, Sgt. Kennedy Ladon Sanders.U.S. Army Reserve Command

“They risked it all, and we’ll never forget the sacrifice and service to our country that the dozens of service members who were wounded in recovery now,” he said yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast on Capitol Hill.

It will be the second dignified transfer Biden has attended since he took office.

Read the full story here.

Turkey arrests 7 on suspicion of selling information to Israeli spy agency

Associated Press

Turkish police arrested seven people today on suspicion of selling information to the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

The suspects, who allegedly passed details to Mossad via private detectives, were detained in a joint operation with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, or MIT.

Acting on warrants issued by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, police anti-terror and intelligence branch officers carried out raids in Istanbul and the west coast city of Izmir, Anadolu reported. Two other suspects in the investigation are thought to have been detained earlier.

Last month, 34 people were detained by Turkish police on suspicion of spying for Israel. They were accused of planning to carry out activities that included reconnaissance and “pursuing, assaulting and kidnapping” foreign nationals living in Turkey.

Some Palestinian Americans reject Blinken meeting on Gaza as protests continue outside his Virginia home

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Abigail Williams

Abigail Williams, Monica Alba and Julia Jester

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian Americans yesterday, the State Department said, but declined to say how many from the diaspora actually attended the meeting.  The meeting took place on the sixth day of protesters camping outside his suburban Virginia home in opposition to the Biden administration’s policies in the Israel-Hamas war.

A spokesperson for Palestinian American community leaders said in a press release that the majority of those invited were not attending, calling a meeting at this time “insulting and performative,” and the discussion “a box-ticking exercise.”

“After nearly four unbearable months of constant US enabled Israeli violence against our families, friends and other innocent civilians in Gaza, and throughout Palestine, we cannot imagine what Secretary Blinken could have to say or discuss with us,” the group said in a press release.

“There is one thing that we, our community and countless others around the US and the world, including American unions representing nearly 8 million workers and at least 47 US cities, have been asking of this administration: to demand a permanent ceasefire to save Palestinians lives and stop the destruction of Gaza.”

protest israeli hamas conflict usa
Julia Jester / NBC News

State Department spokesperson Matt Miller told reporters yesterday that this meeting was the latest in a series of meetings Blinken has had and “he finds that process to be constructive.”

“It informs his thinking it helps him he believes shape policy in the best way possible, and he’ll continue to hold such meetings,” Miller said although he declined to point to any specific examples. “That doesn’t mean that obviously that we agree with every person that we meet with, it doesn’t mean that we expect them to agree with everything that we say. Of course, that’s not true. But we find that give and take valuable and, yes, it very much does inform his thinking and informs the decisions that he makes.”

Standing outside Blinken’s home, activist Hazami Barmada told NBC News she rejected the offer. “Very often, these meetings turn into a whitewashed way of saying, we care about your concerns, but there’s no political weight behind it.”

Israeli troops press on with ground operation in Gaza

Max Butterworth

An image released by the Israeli army today shows troops during ground operations at an undisclosed location in the Gaza Strip.

IDF troops in Gaza
Israeli Army / AFP - Getty Images

Israel to move operations focus to Rafah from Khan Younis, defense minister says

Israel will move its military operations farther south to Rafah, close to Gaza’s border with Egypt, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement on X yesterday.

The announcement came after Gallant claimed in a separate statement that Israel has “dismantled” Hamas in the main southern city of Khan Younis following a situation assessment held in the area, saying that the Israeli army has “eliminated” 10,000 Hamas soldiers so far.

“The operation in the Khan Yunis area is progressing and yielding impressive results,” he added. “We are achieving our missions in Khan Yunis, and we will also reach Rafah and eliminate terror elements that threaten us.”

More than half of Gaza's 2.3 million population is thought to be sheltering in the Rafah area after fleeing Israeli assaults further north in the strip.

Austin and Gallant discuss a less intense Israeli operation in Gaza 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed Israel's "shift to low-intensity operations" in Gaza in a call with his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, yesterday, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The Pentagon also said they discussed a "diplomatic solution" along Israel's border with Lebanon and stability in the occupied West Bank.

They also discussed aid delivery to Gaza and the "regional threats" to U.S. forces after three U.S. soldiers were killed in Jordan, it added.

Israel’s war Cabinet waiting for Hamas’ response to principles of hostage deal

Israel’s war Cabinet is on standby for Hamas’ reaction to the principles ironed out in Paris on Sunday by CIA Director William Burns, head of the Mossad David Barnea, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and an Egyptian senior intelligence official, according to a senior adviser to the war Cabinet.

“Everyone is waiting to see Hamas’ reaction,” the adviser said, who asked not to be named given the sensitivity of the talks, adding that it could take several days.

The war Cabinet is expecting to start negotiations according to the principles sent to Hamas once Hamas replies, the adviser said.

Israel has floated a two-month pause in fighting in order to get the hostages back, NBC News has previously reported, but current and former Israeli officials say no terms have been set in stone.

There are still “wide gaps” between Israel and Hamas on the outline of a potential deal, according to professor Jacob Nagel, former national security adviser to Israel who is also in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s orbit.

Hamas has previously demanded that Israel end the war and withdraw all troops from Gaza, that Hamas stay in power in the enclave, and that Israel not make any changes along the border of Israel and Gaza.

“There might be a deal if Sinwar will give up his three basic demands, meaning going back to Oct. 6th,” said Nagel, who is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Netanyahu posted a video Tuesday responding to “rumors” about the deal.

“We are committed to getting a hostage deal, but not at any price. I have red lines,” he said. “Among them are: we won’t end the war, we won’t remove the IDF from the Gaza Strip, and we won’t release thousands of prisoners.”

Hamas is currently fragmented, with leadership split geographically between Doha, Qatar, and inside the Gaza Strip. There are both physical and ideological divides between the political and military wings, making consensus-building a challenge.

Adding to the logistical hurdles, Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, is in hiding in Gaza, working to mask his communications so Israel’s military doesn’t find him.

Nagel said he believes Sinwar will likely keep some hostages forever as “his insurance policy.”

“We also want that the deal to be for all the hostages, not only the 35 humanitarian prisoners,” Nagel said.

Another senior Israeli official said that, given all the challenges, it’s unclear if the deal will come together. “I don’t think it’s more than 50/50 it will materialize,” the senior official said.


Palestinians walk on the shattered streets of central Gaza

Max Butterworth

People walk past destroyed buildings in the Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip yesterday.

Gaza Refugee Camp
Anas Baba / AFP via Getty Images

Catch up on NBC News’ latest coverage of the war

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