US launches airstrikes against Iranian-backed militia in Syria

U.S. carries out airstrike against Iranian-backed...

US military on Thursday conducted airstrikes in Syria against facilities that the Pentagon say are used by Iranian-backed militant groups, in response to recent rocket attacks against American forces in the region.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the USA airstrikes in Syria were a proportionate response to attacks earlier this month.

"Biden's direction, United States military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria", the Pentagon said in a statement.

In announcing the strikes, John Kirby, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, said: 'This proportionate military response was conducted together with diplomatic measures, including consultation with coalition partners'.

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

The airstrike was in retaliation for a February 15 rocket attack against a USA base in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil that killed a coalition contractor and left several American contractors and a US military service member wounded.

It comes as the U.S. tries to get Iran back into negotiations with a view to both countries re-entering the Iran nuclear deal.

"It seems we're back to past year", a senior USA military official in Iraq told AFP news agency, referring to several months in 2020 when rockets rained down on American sites once a week or more.

"We're confident in the target that we went after, we know what we hit", U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said.

According to the Pentagon, the bombings were in response to recent attacks against American personnel in Iraq.

But today, pro-Iranian groups accuse them of being behind the attacks. There were additional rocket attacks against another Iraqi base that housed American contractors and near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Though Kata'ib Hezbollah, the most high-profile Iran-backed militia in Iraq, was blamed, its spokesperson said, "We absolutely did not target Erbil or the Green Zone".

Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, had said Tuesday that Iraq is in charge of investigating the February 15 attack.

Iraqi security forces inspect damage after a rocket attack earlier this month.

In the week since Washington offered to talk with Tehran about reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran has curbed United Nations monitoring, threatened to boost uranium enrichment and its suspected proxies have twice rocketed Iraqi bases with USA soldiers.

Tensions soared after a Washington-directed drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani and powerful Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis past year.

The official also said that Mr Biden was given a range of options and one of the most limited responses was chosen.

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



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