The US military, under the direction of President Biden, has conducted airstrikes against what it said were “facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups” near the border between Iraq and Syria. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the militias were using the facilities to launch unmanned aerial vehicle attacks against US troops in Iraq, the AP reports. Kirby said the US military targeted three operational and weapons storage facilities Sunday—two in Syria and one in Iraq. He described the airstrikes as “defensive,” saying they were launched in response to the attacks by militias. The Pentagon said the facilities were used by Iran-backed militia factions, including Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada. Two Iraqi militia officials told the AP in Baghdad that four militiamen were killed in the airstrikes near the border with Syria.
“The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation—but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message,” Kirby said. US military officials have grown increasingly alarmed over drone strikes targeting US military bases in Iraq, which became more common since a US-directed drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani near the Baghdad airport last year. Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the attack. The strike drew the ire of mostly Shiite Iraqi lawmakers and prompted parliament to pass a nonbinding resolution to pressure the Iraqi government to oust foreign troops from the country. Sunday's strikes mark the second time the Biden administration has taken military action in the region. In February, the US launched airstrikes against facilities in Syria, near the Iraqi border, that it said were used by Iranian-backed militia groups.
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