U.S. Carries Out Air Strikes on Iran-Backed Groups in Syria

U.S. Carries Out Air Strikes on Iran-Backed Groups in Syria

22:00 - The U.S. has carried out air strikes in eastern Syria on sites connected to Iran-backed groups, the U.S. Defense Department said on Thursday night.

“These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

The strike marked the first overseas military attack ordered by President Joe Biden. “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,” Kirby said.

The assault came after a series of rocket attacks in recent days on facilities in Iraq used by the U.S., including one that killed a contractor working with the U.S.-led coalition in the country.

By hitting a facility in Syria said to be operated by an Iranian-linked militia, the U.S. avoids raising tensions that would come with a strike directly on Iran, which the Biden administration is seeking to persuade to return to a 2015 nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump withdrew from three years ago.

The U.S. launched the strike one day after Biden spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. The two leaders “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 Wednesday in a statement.

“The operation sends an unambiguous message,” Kirby said Thursday night. “President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”

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