The airstrikes targeted “facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups” near the border of Iraq and Syria, according to the Associated Press.
Defense Press Secretary John Kirby said the ‘militias were using the facilities to launch unmanned aerial vehicle attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq,’ according to the AP, adding that the military ‘targeted three operational and weapons storage facilities — two in Syria and one in Iraq.’
He described the airstrikes as “defensive,” saying they were launched in response to an “ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting U.S. interests in Iraq.”
“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.
“Mr. Kirby said the facilities were used by Iranian-backed militias, including Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, to store arms and ammunition for carrying out attacks against places where Americans were located in Iraq. There were no immediate reports of casualties but a military after-action review is ongoing, Pentagon officials said,” the NY Times reported.
“Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, who is in Baghdad, said the attacks were ‘significant’ and noted that the groups targeted were threatening to retaliate,” the network reported.
“After this threat we might see an escalation against military facilities,” he said.
Biden and the White House declined to comment on the attacks on Sunday.
It is the second time the Biden administration has taken military action in the Middle East. The U.S. launched airstrikes in February against Syrian facilities near the Iraqi border, which it said were being used by Iranian-backed militia groups.
Biden said at the time that Iran is being warned that the U.S. will retaliate if militia groups target American troops.
“You can’t act with impunity. Be careful,” Biden said.
The Democratic president’s lack of hesitancy to use military action contrasts with the peaceful presidency of Donald Trump, who withdrew troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and did not initiate a foreign war.