US strikes hit Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria

The US Air Force has carried out strikes against Iranian-backed militias in Syria. The US Defense Department said the strikes were retaliation for attacks on US positions in Iraq.

According to a statement by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, US military forces conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria Thursday evening at President Biden’s direction.

“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),” said the statement.

The statement remarked that “this proportionate military response” was conducted together with diplomatic measures, including consultation with Coalition partners, adding that the US forces have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.

“I’m confident in the target that we went after, we know what we hit,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters. Speaking shortly after the airstrikes, he added, “We’re confident that that target was being used by the same Shia militants that conducted the strikes,” referring to a Feb. 15 rocket attack in northern Iraq that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a US service member and other coalition personnel.

“We said a number of times that we will respond on our timeline,” Austin said. “We wanted to be sure of the connectivity and we wanted to be sure that we had the right targets.”