Monday, June 28, 2021

US carries out air raids on Iran-backed militias in Syria, Iraq | Al Jazeera

The United States said on Sunday it carried out a round of air raids against Iran-backed armed groups in Iraq and Syria, in response to drone attacks against US personnel and facilities in Iraq, with the militias threatening to retaliate.

In a statement, the US military said it targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq. It did not say whether it believed anyone was killed or injured, but the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least five fighters were killed and several others wounded.

The attacks came at the direction of President Joe Biden, the second time he has ordered retaliatory attacks against Iran-backed militia since taking office five months ago. Biden last ordered limited bombing against a target in Syria in February, that time in response to rocket attacks in Iraq.

“As demonstrated by this evening’s strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect US personnel,” the Pentagon said in a statement.




  1. Specifically, the strikes targeted “operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, both of which lie close to the border between those countries,” said Kirby. “Several Iran-backed militia groups, including Kata'ib Hezbollah and Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, used these facilities," he added.

    1. Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington, told The Jerusalem Post: “It is heartening to see the administration set the edge with Iran. Attacks by terrorist groups against American troops should be a red line for any American president.
      “Iran, through its proxy groups, has provoked the United States at a time when the Biden administration appears determined to yield massive sanctions relief to the regime as part of the anticipated return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal,” Schanzer said. “Unfortunately, I don’t see the administration reversing course. Despite this aggression, the regime is likely to still receive everything it wants out of the deal.”

  2. The United States notified other countries of Sunday airstrikes against pro-Iranian targets in the Syrian-Iraqi border region, Pentagon spokesperson Jessica McNulty told TASS.

    "President Biden directed his Administration to revitalize and reinvest in U.S. alliances and partnerships. To ensure the force protection of Coalition force-contributing nations, and out of respect for our allies and partners in the region and beyond, we provided notification of our military action. I am not going to get into the details of our diplomatic engagements," she noted, without specifying whether Russia was notified.

    According to McNulty, "Iran-backed militias have conducted at least five one-way UAV attacks against facilities used by U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq since April as well as ongoing rocket attacks against U.S. and coalition forces."

    "Through these and other means, we seek to make clear to Iran and Iran-backed militia groups that there will be serious consequences if they continue to attack, or to arm, fund, and train militia groups that attack our people. We will take necessary and appropriate measures to defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region," she added.

    Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby announced earlier that the US Air Force launched airstrikes on Sunday against targets of Iranian-backed groups in the Iraqi-Syrian border region.

  3. The Pentagon did not say whether anyone was killed or injured in the attacks. But according to AFP news agency the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said that five militia fighters were killed and several more wounded in Syria "in an attack by US warplanes".

    Syrian state news agency Sana meanwhile reported that a child had died and at least three other people were wounded, AFP said.

    Iran's influence over Iraq's internal affairs has grown steadily since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

    The strikes come as Iran has been holding talks with world powers including the US about reviving a 2015 nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions against the state in exchange for Iran stopping some nuclear


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