28th June, 2021
The United States said on Sunday it carried out another round of air strikes against Iran-backed militia in Iraq and Syria.
The air strikes were in response to drone attacks by the militia against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq.
In a statement, the U.S. military said it targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq.
It did not disclose whether it believed anyone was killed or injured but officials said assessments were ongoing.
The strikes came at the direction of President Joe Biden, the second time he has ordered retaliatory strikes against Iran-backed militia since taking office five months ago.
Biden last ordered limited strikes in Syria in February, that time in response to rocket attacks in Iraq.
“As demonstrated by this evening’s strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect U.S. personnel,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The strikes came even as Biden’s administration is looking to potentially revive a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
The strikes appear to show Biden’s efforts to compartmentalise defensive strikes to protect American personnel, while simultaneously engaging Tehran in diplomacy.
His critics say Iran cannot be trusted and point to the drone attacks as further evidence that Iran and its proxies will never accept a U.S. military presence in Iraq or Syria.
Biden and the White House declined comment on the strikes on Sunday.
Two U.S. officials said Iran-backed militias carried out at least five drone attacks against facilities used by U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq since April.
The Pentagon said the facilities targeted were used by Iran-backed militia including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada.
One of the facilities targeted was used to launch and recover the drones, a defense official said.
The U.S. military carried out strikes with F-15 and F-16 aircraft, officials said, adding the pilots made it back from the mission safely.
“We assess each strike hit the intended targets,” one of the officials told Reuters.