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Biden orders first airstrike: Hits Iran backed militia in response to rocket attacks

Joe Biden. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
February 25, 2021

At the direction of President Joe Biden, the United States carried out an airstrike Thursday evening in Syria on a structure linked to an Iran-backed militia, according to a statement from the Department of Defense provided to American Military News.

The strike was in response to three different rocket attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq last week, aiming to harm the militia’s ability to make future attacks.

Department of Defense Press Secretary John Kirby issued the following statement on the strike:

“At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria. These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel. Specifically, the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kait’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kait’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS).

This proportionate military response was conducted together with diplomatic measures, including consultation with Coalition partners. The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”

The strike is the first retaliatory move by the Biden administration following last week’s attacks, and was seemingly limited in scope, which could help prevent escalation.

On February 15, rocket attacks struck US-led Coalition forces in Erbil, Iraq, killing one civilian contractor, killing one and injuring six – including an American service member.

Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto confirmed the attack in tweet: “Initial reports that Indirect Fire landed on Coalition Forces in Erbil tonight. There was 1 civilian contractor killed, 5 civilian contractors injured and 1 US service member injured. More information to follow.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement expressing outrage at the attacks before offering condolences to those impacted.

“We express our condolences to the loved ones of the civilian contractor killed in this attack, and to the innocent Iraqi people and their families who are suffering these ruthless acts of violence. I have reached out to Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani to discuss the incident and to pledge our support for all efforts to investigate and hold accountable those responsible,” Blinken said.