U.S. airstrikes target Iran-backed militia in Syria

Katie Ramirez
February 26, 2021

Past Twitter messages from President Biden and one of his top aides - both criticizing former President Trump - weren't appearing to age well Thursday after Biden ordered airstrikes against an Iranian-backed militia stronghold in Syria.

A USA service member and five other contractors were injured when the rockets hit sites in Irbil, including a base used by the US-led coalition.

An Iraqi official speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the U.S. intelligence was shared with Iraq's government.

The Department of Defense says the strikes were in response to attacks on United States and coalition personnel in Iraq.

Last week, per ABC, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the USA "reserves the right to respond in the time and manner of our choosing".

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.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday the USA would "hold Iran responsible for the actions of its proxies that attack Americans" but would not "lash out" and risk destabilising Iraq.

The US has in the past targeted facilities in Syria belonging to Kataeb Hezbollah, which it has blamed for numerous attacks targeting American personnel and interests in Iraq.

Later, Iraqi intelligence and military personnel told U.S. media that the original attack on United States forces was likely carried out by Daesh remnants, not Kata'ib Hezbollah. Syria war monitoring groups said the strikes hit trucks moving weapons to a base for Iranian-backed militias in Boukamal.

He said he had recommended the action to the president.

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Her nomination had been considered on the rocks had Republicans kept control of the Senate. Manchin cited Tanden's "public statements and tweets" in his statement.

"We said a number of times that we will respond on our timeline", Austin told reporters flying with him from California to Washington.

"We're confident in the target we went after".

The U.S. reportedly launched a military airstrike Thursday evening on a target in Syria said to be controlled by an Iran-backed militia group, Reuters reports.

"President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel".

"Specifically, the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kaitaib Hezbollah (KH) and Kaitaib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS)".

Mary Ellen O'Connell, a professor at Notre Dame Law School, criticized the USA attack as a violation of global law. "None of those elements is met in the Syria strike". A separate rocket attack was carried out against the Balad Air Base north of Baghdad on 20 February.

The Pentagon said on Thursday that the USA military had launched an airstrike in eastern Syria on facilities used by Iran-backed militia.

In a major escalation in Middle East tensions in recent weeks, foreign troops stationed in Iraq's Irbil were targeted with rocket fire on February 15, killing at least one personnel and injuring five more.

It followed a responsibility claim allegedly issued by a little-known group called Awliya Wa'ad al-Haq, or "The True Promise Brigades", that circulated on social media, calling it retaliation for a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group in a main Baghdad shopping district on January 21.

Earlier this month, more than a dozen 107mm rockets were fired at the American military complex in Erbil airport that has hosted troops deployed as part of the worldwide alliance fighting ISIS since 2014.

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