By Kevin Zhang
The United States military has stated that it carried out attacks on facilities in eastern Syria that were being used by Iran-backed militia on Thursday, following recent rocket attacks on U.S. military locations in Iraq.
“At President Biden’s direction, US military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “These strikes were authorised in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel.”
The Pentagon has stated that U.S. fighter jets participating in the strike dropped a total of seven 500-lb Joint Direct Attack Munition-guided precision bombs, hitting all seven targets, which included a crossing used by Iran-backed armed groups to move weapons across the border.
The attacks destroyed multiple facilities at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS).
The United States retaliation came after a rocket attack on the main military base inside the airport in Erbil in early February, which killed one foreign civilian contractor and wounded at least nine others, including an American soldiers.
The Pentagon statement described the U.S. military response as “proportionate, co-ordinated with diplomatic measures and carried out in consultation with coalition partners.”
Analysts believe that the Biden administration is trying to draw a distinction with the previous Trump administration, which the Biden administration claims used military force disproportionately. Biden has also spoken to the Iraqi prime minister and the King of Saudi Arabia following the attack. Saudi Arabia has also been hit by militant rocket attacks.
The Iraqi government is conducting its own investigation into the attack on Erbil on February 15th. Rockets fired by militant groups reportedly hit Baghdad’s Green Zone on Monday, which houses the U.S. embassy and other diplomatic missions.