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US declines to rule out hitting targets in Iran, Jake Sullivan says – POLITICO

Members of an Iraqi Shiite group attend a funeral for group members who were killed by a U.S. airstrike. Following the strikes Saturday, the Iraqi government said that 16 people were killed, with some among those being civilians. | Hadi Mizban/AP

National security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday did not rule out the possibility of strikes in Iran in saying the U.S. will continue its military action in Iraq and Syria in response to last weekend’s deadly attack against U.S. troops in Jordan.

“I would just say, from the perspective of Tehran, if they chose to respond directly to the United States, they would be met with a swift and forceful response from us,” Sullivan said to host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

The strikes come days after three U.S. soldiers were killed in a drone strike at the Tower 22 base in Jordan on Jan. 27. Airstrikes on Iranian militants in
Iraq and Syria began Friday
, and U.S. and British forces carried out
another round of air and missile strikes
on the Houthis in Yemen the following day.

When asked by “Fox News Sunday” host Shannon Bream if strikes within Iran are on or off the table, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that “what you saw on Friday night was just the first round. There will be additional response action taken by the administration against the IRGC and these groups that they’re backing,” referencing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“And in terms of the attacks that we’ve suffered over recent months, [Biden] has increased aggressiveness of our responses to go more directly after the IRGC. And now, you saw what happened on Friday night, and I’m telling you, that’s not the end of it. There will be more,” Kirby said.

Sullivan appeared on multiple Sunday morning talk shows to discuss the status of the Biden administration’s response.

“We intend to take additional strikes and additional action to continue to send a clear message that the United States will respond when our forces are attacked, or people are killed,” Sullivan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Kristen Welker.

President Joe Biden
first responded
to the Iran-backed Houthis on Jan. 11, launching retaliatory strikes in Yemen in a move that
enraged some members of Congress
who disagreed with the president’s decision to take military action without first seeking congressional approval.

Kirby defended Biden’s decision to bypass Congress.

“The president is acting consistent with his Article II responsibilities as commander in chief. These are self-defense actions that we’re taking to prevent and to take away capability from these groups from targeting our troops and our facilities,” Kirby said.

“We believe they had good effect in reducing and degrading the capabilities of the militias and the Houthis, and, as necessary, we will continue to take action,” Sullivan said of the strikes.

Sullivan told ABC’s Stephanopoulos that Biden has informed military commanders that they need to be “positioned to respond to further attacks,” and they cannot rule out possible retaliation from the Houthis or militias in Iraq and Syria.

Following the strikes Saturday, the Iraqi government said that 16 people were killed, with
some among those being civilians
. A government spokesperson said that 25 people were also wounded in the attacks.

When asked by CBS’ “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennen about reported civilian casualties, Sullivan said they are “continuing to assess the battle damage.”

“The targets that we hit, we believe with conviction, were valid military targets. They were ammunition depots and command and control centers,” Sullivan said.