Jake Sullivan
Jake SullivanArie Leib Abrams/Flash 90

The US will take “further action” after conducting major air strikes over the weekend against Iranian-backed militias who have carried out attacks on US troops in the Middle East, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday.

“I would just say that the president was clear when he ordered them and when he conducted them that that was the beginning of our response and there will be more steps to come,” Sullivan told CNN.

Asked whether that meant the US was planning additional strikes, Sullivan said, “What it means is that we will take further action.”

“I’m not going to, obviously, describe the character of that action because I don’t want to telegraph our punches,” he added.

On Friday night, the US hit 85 targets across seven locations in Iraq and Syria, in retaliation for a drone attack in Jordan last week in which three US service members were killed.

The strikes marked a significant escalation in tensions between the US and Iran-backed groups attacking American bases across the region in protest of Israel’s war in Gaza.

The US strikes killed at least 16 people in Iraq, including civilians, and injured 25 others, the Iraqi government said Friday. The attacks hit areas close to the border with Syria and targeted facilities used by Iranian-linked al Hashd al Shabi — or Popular Mobilization Units — in the Iraqi city of Al-Qaim, Iraqi officials said.

The US is “still assessing the battle damage” from Friday night’s strikes in Iraq and Syria, Sullivan said on Sunday, adding that “our CENTCOM, Central Command, is looking at the capabilities we reduced and the casualties that were incurred.”

On Tuesday, three days before the US strikes, Kataib Hezbollah, the most powerful Iran-backed militia in Iraq, announced that it would suspend its attacks against US forces in the region.

Asked about the statement, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a briefing, “We’ve seen those reports. I don’t have a specific comment to provide other than actions speak louder than words.”