In the government’s first public military action at the behest of Joe Biden, the US president targeted a notorious enemy: Iran. The Democrat on Thursday ordered an airstrike in eastern Syria against facilities that the Pentagon said belonged to militias supported by the Persian country.
The attacks appear to be limited in scope, reducing the risk of tensions escalating. It was a US response to an initiative against a US military base in Iraq ten days ago which resulted in one civilian death and six injuries, including an American soldier.
Biden’s decision to attack only in Syria and not Iraq, at least for now, also gives Baghdad a break as it investigates the February 15 contract.
“Under President Biden’s leadership, US military forces earlier this evening carried out airstrikes against infrastructure used by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria,” the spokesman said. Pentagon John Kirby in a statement.
He added that the attacks destroyed several facilities at the border checkpoint used by groups like Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuahada.
US officials heard by The New York Times said the military action was a small protest: a bomb dropped on a small cluster of buildings on the Syria-Iraq border, used for the transit of militias and weaponry .
Another Washington official, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Reuters news agency, said the decision to carry out the attacks should be taken as a sign that the United States does not want the situation to turn into a greater spiral of conflict, even though they punished the militias.
The action was at the border precisely to prevent a diplomatic counterattack against the Iraqi government. The Pentagon offered Biden a range with larger lenses, but the president approved the smaller scale, officials told the US newspaper. It is not yet known what type of damage was caused or whether there were any casualties.
The February 15 attack on the US military base came days before the US made the first official decision to revert to the nuclear deal with Iran – Washington abandoned the treaty in 2018 under Donald Trump .
It is not yet clear how and if the escalation of tensions will have an impact on efforts to resume the 2015 pact.
On February 15, rockets struck the US military base at Erbil International Airport, an area of Iraq under the control of the Kurds. A few days later, another attack hit a base receiving US forces in northern Baghdad. Earlier this week, more rockets struck the Green Zone in Baghdad, where the U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic missions are located.
Kata’ib Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the attacks. Some Western and Iraqi officials say the initiatives, often claimed by little-known groups, are carried out by militants with ties to that group, as a way for Iranian allies to pursue US forces without being held accountable.
With Reuters and the New York Times