U.S. bombs facilities in Syria used by Iran-backed militia

Daniel Fowler
February 26, 2021

The Pentagon confirmed on Thursday that the USA military had conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria.

President Joe Biden okays air strike against a structure belonging to what the United States says were Iran-backed militia.

Fox News reported that the us hit multiple facilities in an Iranian-backed militia stronghold, and that according to a senior official, "the strike was a defensive strategy, meant to halt and deter future rocket attacks by the militia group that recently hit Baghdad and Erbil".

"(Biden and al-Kadhimi) discussed the recent rocket attacks against Iraqi and coalition personnel and agreed that those responsible for such attacks must be held fully to account", the White House said in a statement of the two leaders' call on Tuesday. Last week, per ABC, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States "reserves the right to respond in the time and manner of our choosing".

On February 15, rockets struck a military base supplying foreign coalition troops at Erbil Airport (north). The US has responded with airstrikes against Iranian-backed miitias.

Retaliatory US military strikes have occurred a number of times in the past few years.

The airstrikes come at a delicate diplomatic moment between Washington and Tehran, with the Biden administration trying to restart talks with Iran over its nuclear program.

Kirby had said Tuesday that Iraq is in charge of investigating the February 15 attack. Experts say pro-Iranian Iraqi militant groups suspected of firing are seeking to increase pressure on their government amid Iran's impatience with the new USA administration. Then on Monday, two rockets hit hear the US embassy in Baghdad, in the third attack within the past week.

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"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", Mr Kirby said.

Mick Mulroy, who served as a top Pentagon official for the Middle East during the Trump administration and is now an analyst with ABC News, said the strike was probably "calculated and scaled to avoid an escalation and send a message that Iran's use of militias as proxies will not allow them to avoid responsibility".

This year, the pro-Iran groups typically blamed for such attacks - including Kataeb Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq - have been quick to condemn the strikes. "And intelligence shared with us says there are more to come".

Iran this week said it has no links to the Guardians of Blood Brigade.

Mr Trump had said the death of a USA contractor would be a red line and provoke U.S. escalation in Iraq.

The December 2019 killing of a United States 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.

It followed three rocket attacks on facilities in Iraq used by USA and coalition forces fighting the Islamic State group.

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