On Thursday, Joe Biden ordered air strikes on “multiple facilities” allegedly being used by Iranian-backed militia groups in eastern Syria.
The strikes were in response to recent attacks against American and U.S.-led Coalition personnel in Iraq and to “ongoing threats” to those personnel, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement Thursday evening.
“At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria,” Kirby said.
He added, “These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel. Specifically, the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kait’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kait’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS).”
“The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq,” Kirby added, stating that the airstrikes were a “defensive precision strike.”
It is not yet clear if there were any casualties associated with the airstrikes. According to the Washington Post, the strike “was believed to have killed up to a handful of people.”
Earlier this month, a rocket attack in northern Iraq — believed to have been carried out by Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq — killed a contractor working with the U.S. military and injured a U.S. service member. There were additional rocket attacks against another Iraqi base that housed American contractors and near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Biden was under mounting outside pressure to act, particularly since former President Donald Trump had taken quick action after Iran-backed militia groups conducted similar attacks in Iraq in December 2019 that killed an Iraqi-American contractor.
Senator Marco Rubio declared that the strikes were “targeted, proportional, and necessary.”
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