Sunday, President Joe Biden ordered the military to conduct airstrikes against Iran-backed militia groups along the Iraq-Syria border. This is the second time Biden has ordered airstrikes against Iran-backed militias, reports CNN.
- Defense Department officials told CBS News that all targets were successfully hit without civilian casualties.
- At least four militiamen were killed during the airstrikes, according to The Associated Press.
What were the airstrikes targeting?
Sunday’s airstrikes by the U.S. military targeted “facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups,” says the AP. These included operational facilities and weapons storage facilities that were used to launch unmanned aerial attacks — also referred to as drone strikes — against U.S. bases in Iraq.
- The airstrikes targeted three locations: two in Syria and one in Iraq, says CNN.
- The militia groups using the facilities included Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhad, reports the AP.
Footage released by the Pentagon from aboard the aircraft used in the strikes showed attacks on multiple buildings, says CBS News.
Why did Biden order the airstrikes?
U.S. government officials have maintained the airstrikes were a “defensive” measure to protect American troops, contractors, and personnel in Iraq, says the AP. Militia-led drone attacks against U.S. bases in Iraq have become more common over the last year.
- Last year, the U.S. killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone attack near the Baghdad airport, reports the AP.
“At least five” drone attacks have been conducted against U.S. bases in Iraq, reports CBS News. No Americans have been killed recently, but militias had begun using the attacks “in an increasingly aggressive way,” says CBS News.
This week’s airstrikes were a response to these ongoing attacks, says CNN.
- According to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Sunday, “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,” reports the AP.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that the U.S. airstrikes “appear to be a targeted and proportional response to a serious and specific threat,” per the AP.
What happens now?
Biden did not hold a press conference Sunday or answer any questions from the press, saying he would do so Monday, reports CNN.
- The Iraqi military condemned the airstrikes in a rare moment of criticism against the U.S., saying they were a “blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty,” per CBS News. The Iraqi military will conduct investigations into the incident to prevent future violations.
- Iranian officials have accused the U.S. of creating instability in the region, says CNN.
- The militia groups have vowed revenge against the U.S., says the AP.