Biden approves U.S. airstrike on Iran-backed militias in Syria

Henrietta Strickland
February 26, 2021

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 and Kait'ib Sayyid al Shuhada.

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike in Syria against a structure belonging to what it said were Iran-backed militia, two officials told Reuters, an apparent response to rocket attacks against USA targets in Iraq.

On February 15, rockets hit the US military base at Erbil International Airport killing one non-American contractor and injuring a number of American contractors and a USA service member.

"These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel".

It was not immediately clear what damage was caused and if there were any casualties from the strike. Then on Monday, two rockets hit hear the US embassy in Baghdad, in the third attack within the past week.

Mary Ellen O'Connell, a professor at Notre Dame Law School, criticized the US attack as a violation of worldwide law.

"Responses like this are a necessary deterrent and remind Iran, its proxies, and our adversaries around the world that attacks on USA interests will not be tolerated", McCaul said. "None of those elements is met in the Syria strike".

Some Western and Iraqi officials say the attacks, often claimed by little-known groups, are being carried out by militants with links to Kata'ib Hezbollah as a way for Iranian allies to harass US forces without being held accountable.

"Right now, we're not able to give you a certain attribution as to who was behind these attacks, what groups, and I'm not going to get into the tactical details of every bit of weaponry used here", Kirby said.

Rockets have also struck USA bases in Baghdad, including the Green Zone which houses the U.S. embassy and other diplomatic missions.

Some Western and Iraqi officials say the attacks, often claimed by little-known groups, are being carried out by militants with links to Kata'ib Hezbollah as a way for Iranian allies to harass US forces without being held accountable.

By hitting a facility in Syria said to be tied to Iranian-linked militia groups, the USA avoids raising tensions that would come with a strike directly on Iran, which the Biden administration is seeking to persuade to return to the 2015 nuclear deal that Trump withdrew from three years ago.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price had said on Monday that the United States holds Iran responsible for the strikes.

The frequency of attacks by Shiite militia groups against US targets in Iraq diminished late a year ago ahead of Biden's inauguration.

Liebermann characterized the attack as the Biden White House "sending a message to those Iranian-backed militias", and highlighted the "relatively small scale" of the attack, reflecting a desire to not unduly escalate the situation as diplomatic negotiations regarding Iran's nuclear program restart. The December 2019 killing of a USA civilian contractor in a rocket attack in Kirkuk sparked a tit-for-tat fight on Iraqi soil that brought the country to the brink of a proxy war.

US forces have been significantly reduced in Iraq to 2,500 personnel and no longer partake in combat missions with Iraqi forces in ongoing operations against the Islamic State group.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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