The U.S military launched airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militias in Syria, in what the Pentagon announced Sunday evening as a retaliatory move for drone attacks on U.S interests in Iraq.
In a statement, the Pentagon said that Iran-backed militias have been launching drone attacks against U.S interests in Iraq.
The statement – released by Pentagon press secretary John Kirby – added that the airstrikes targeted sites used by the militia to launch drone attacks on U.S facilities, coalition troops, and U.S personnel in Iraq. Kirby said the U.S airstrikes targeted specifically the operational and weaponry storage facilities at two separate locations: one in Syria and the other in Iraq, and both locations lie close to the border between the two countries.
Pentagon said the militia have been using both facilities as bases to attack U.S interests using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). Several Iranian-backed militias, including Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada and Kata’ib Hezbollah, have previously used both facilities. U.S military warplanes F-15 and F-16 targeted these facilities that the U.S defense officials say had been used primarily for drone control logistics and launching rockets.
While a U.S official (not authorized to speak publicly) confirmed that all military pilots returned safely, he said it was too early to comment on whether there had been any militias dead or civilian casualties on the ground.
However, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said early Monday that at least five Iran-backed Iraqi militants were killed, and a few dozen others were seriously wounded in the attack by U.S warplanes. The war monitor, which uses Syrian-based networks of sources to gather information, added that among the targets hit were military positions.
U.S Navy Commander Jessica McNulty added Sunday night that the airstrikes hit the intended locations. But SANA, a Syrian state-run news agency, said that the attack had killed one child and wounded three others. U.S officials are yet to disclose the extent of civilian casualties but said assessment is still ongoing.
The U.S Moves to Deter Drone Attacks
Since January 2021, there have been over 40 attacks against U.S interests in Iraq, a country that hosts over 2500 American troops as part of a U.S-NATO military coalition to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists. Of the 40 attacks, 14 involved rockets, while the vast majority have been bombing that targeted U.S convoys.
In April, Iran-backed militias carried out at least five drone attacks on U.S facilities and coalition personnel. Numerous pro-Iran factions in Iraq who are unhappy about the U.S presence in the country have also claimed responsibility for some of the attacks.
The latest airstrike is Biden’s second (since taking office) after he ordered a similar attack in February that was in response to a rocket attack in northern Iraq that killed a U.S contractor and wounded allied forces. The elimination of those targets will degrade the operational capacity of the militia and also deter future attacks.
(Written and edited by: The Decision Maker team)