PRESIDENT Joe Biden ordered his first military attack on Thursday – an airstrike in Syria apparently in response to recent rocket attacks on American targets in Iraq.
The US airstrike hit a structure believed to belong to an Iran-backed militia.
President Joe Biden ordered his first military attack on ThursdayCredit: AP:Associated Press
The US airstrike on Thursday hit a structure believed to belong to an Iran-backed militia
The US appeared to be retaliating for a February 15 rocket attack on the American military base at Erbil International Airport.
That attack, in a region run by Kurds, killed one contractor who was not American and injured numerous American contractors and an American service member.
In a statement on Thursday night, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said: “At President Biden’s direction, US military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria.”
The strikes were authorized “in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel,” Kirby stated.
The attack at Erbil International Airport killed numerous American contractorsCredit: Getty Images – Getty
President Joe Biden ordered the airstrike to send the message that he will protect Americans, according to the Pentagon press secretary
Kirby added that “the operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel.”
Thursday’s airstrike was limited in a manner that could possibly lower the chance of tensions escalating.
Whether there were any casualties and property damage was not immediately known.
Iran, whose president is Hassan Rouhani, and the US are exploring ways to return to a nuclear agreementCredit: EPA
The US’s decision to hit Syria but not Iraq allows the latter to launch its own probe into the February 15 attack.
Earlier this week, one of the main Iraqi militia groups aligned with Iran, called the Kataib Hezbollah group, denied responsibility of any kind for the rocket attacks this month.
Days after the February 15 attack, a salvo struck a base north of Baghdad hosting American forces and injured at least one contractor.
The US’s attack on Thursday appeared to be in retaliation to a February 15 rocket attack on the American military base at Erbil International AirportCredit: Getty Images – Getty
On Monday, rockets struck Baghdad in the Green Zone, which includes diplomatic missions including the US embassy.
The US has carried out retaliatory military strikes multiple times in recent years.
Beginning in late 2019, the US responded to rocket attacks by striking the Kataib Hezbollah militia group in Syria and Iraq.
The two sides attacked each other repeatedly during the Trump administration and the US ultimately killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani.
Iran retaliated last year with a ballistic missile attack against American forces in Iraq.
The latest rocket attacks occurred as the US and Tehran explore ways to return to an agreement after former President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.