The United States has launched air strikes on targets by Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria in retaliation for recent attacks by US forces in Iraq. That reports the Pentagon. At least 17 pro-Iranian fighters have already died, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks of a “defensive military operation.” “This attack was authorized by President Biden in response to recent attacks on the US-led coalition in Iraq and the ongoing threats against our military personnel there.”
In recent weeks, there have been several missile attacks on US bases in Iraq launched by pro-Iranian militias. A US-led coalition is there to fight the Islamic State (IS). In addition, a non-US military employee was killed and an American soldier wounded. Anthony Blinken, the brand new US Secretary of State, then said that the US was “furious”.
With those missile attacks, Tehran wanted to pressure the new Biden administration to lift US sanctions as soon as possible and back to the nuclear accord. This is a treaty between Iran and five great powers plus the EU, whereby Iran does not develop nuclear weapons in exchange for a relief from economic sanctions. Trump unilaterally stepped out of that agreement in 2018, Biden has already indicated to restore it. However, that did not happen fast enough, according to Iran, which fired some missiles to keep the “diplomatic pressure” high.
So last night Biden gave his answer. “The attacks destroyed three trucks with ammunition (…). There are many deaths. At least 17 fighters have died, a preliminary balance, ”said SOHR Director Rami Abdel Rahmane.
Kirby called last night’s airstrikes “proportionate” and said they were “carried out in parallel with diplomatic action,” citing consultations with US partners in the anti-IS coalition.
“The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect US military and coalition personnel,” he said.
“At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner aimed at de-escalating the general situation in both Eastern Syria and Iraq,” he added. (jvdh)