The US military carried out so-called “defensive” air strikes in Iraq and Syria on Sunday against Iran-backed militias behind the drone strikes on US personnel.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement that the air strikes targeted weapons caches and facilities in two locations in Syria and one in Iraq. The facilities were used by at least two militias, Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, it said.
The 14th Brigade of the Popular Mobilization Forces, a group that brings together several Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, said four of their fighters were killed in the attack. The brigade consists of members from Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada.
Jessica McNulty, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said every attack had achieved its intended goal. But the effect of the operation was not clear.
There have been five drone attacks since April, he said. He added that the missile attacks were “ongoing”.
Kirby said President Joe Biden, who authorized the attacks, “took more military action to disrupt and deter attacks on US facilities and personnel in Iraq.”
“We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government for the sole purpose of assisting the Iraqi security forces in their efforts to combat IS,” he said. “The United States has taken the necessary, reasonable and deliberate measures to limit the risk of escalation, but also to send a clear and unequivocal dissuasive message.”
Syrian state news agency SANA reported that a child and three other civilians were injured, but NBC News has not independently confirmed this.
The Iraqi military issued a rare statement condemning the attacks.
“We condemn the US airstrike that last night targeted a location on the Iraqi-Syrian border which is a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and national security in accordance with all international conventions,” said a spokesman for the commander-in-chief. Chief of iraq. said the Bundeswehr.
“Iraq reaffirms its refusal to be a scenario of reckoning, upholding its right to sovereignty over its country and preventing it from being used as a stage for reaction and attack.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the United States was “going down the wrong path” in the region and continuing the “failed legacy” of the previous administration.
“Instead of taking emotional action and creating tension and problems in the region, the United States should change its behavior and allow the people of the region to create security without interference from Washington,” he said during a weekly press conference.
The air strikes come as the Biden administration is considering lifting sanctions on Iran in order to reactivate the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated under the Obama administration that sought to reduce Tehran’s uranium enrichment capacity.
Former President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal three years ago, arguing that it was leaning towards Iran. His government also imposed harmful sanctions on the country.
US forces launched air strikes earlier this year against the same Iran-backed militias that the Pentagon said were behind a missile strike in northern Iraq. The missile attack killed a Filipino contractor working with a US-led military coalition and injured six people, including a Louisiana National Guard soldier and four US contractors.