U.S. President Joe Biden is making no secret of his plans for multiple attacks on an Iran-backed group that killed three U.S. soldiers last week, a strategy that’s exposed him to criticism that he’s giving up the element of surprise.

The coming strikes were the talk of Washington on Thursday, four days after Biden warned that the U.S. would respond at a time and place of its choosing. Based on hints from the White House, the consensus emerged that the U.S. would attack Tehran-linked targets in Syria and Iraq but not hit Iranian territory. There was also speculation the U.S. would target an Iranian warship deployed in the Red Sea, the IRIS Alborz.

The signaling fits with Biden’s desire to send a message to Tehran, which the U.S. accuses of funding groups that have launched dozens of attacks on American bases and personnel in the region. At the same time, he wants to avoid fanning a conflict that began when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and Israeli forces responded with a devastating military campaign in the Gaza Strip.