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US carries out precision airstrikes on Iran-backed militias attacking US troops with drones

A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Bruch/Released)
June 27, 2021

President Joe Biden directed the United States military to carry out multiple precision airstrikes against facilities linked to Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq and Syria on Sunday in response to drone attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities, according to the Department of Defense.

A statement by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby emailed to American Military News read:

At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region. The targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. Specifically, the U.S. 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. Several Iran-backed militia groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), used these facilities.

As demonstrated by this evening’s strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect U.S. personnel. Given the ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting U.S. interests in Iraq, the President directed further military action to disrupt and deter such attacks. We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq for the sole purpose of assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to defeat ISIS. 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.

As a matter of international law, the United States acted pursuant to its right of self-defense. The strikes were both necessary to address the threat and appropriately limited in scope. As a matter of domestic law, the President took this action pursuant to his Article II authority to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq.

In February, Biden ordered his first airstrike in Syria on another 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.

Earlier this year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced nearly $600 million in additional humanitarian assistance to aid the Syrian crisis, bringing the total to almost $13 billion.

“U.S. assistance will benefit many of the estimated 13.4 million Syrians inside Syria in need of humanitarian assistance, as well as 5.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt,” Blinken’s statement read. “We offer support to alleviate the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable people because it aligns with our values as a nation and with our national interests.”