WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- President Joe Biden ordered military airstrikes in eastern Syria on Thursday, targeting Iran-aligned militia groups in the area.
- The attack was made in response to the latest Iran-based assaults made against the US in Iraq.
- Amid the hostility between the two nations, both were considering going back into negotiations about the 2015 nuclear treaty.
In response to the recent rocket attacks made against the US in Iraq, President Joe Biden instructed the US military airstrikes in eastern Syria on Thursday. The facilities were believed to be an Iran-supported armed group base.
In a statement, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said: “At President (Joe) Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria.”
As first reported by Reuters, the strikes were specific in scope to minimize the escalation risk.
“President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq,” Kirby added.
Biden’s move to make the assault in Syria instead of Iraq came as the Iraqi government launched its own probe of the Feb. 15 attack which ended in US troop casualties.
Multiple facilities at a border control point were devastated by the attack, per Kirby. Iranian-backed militant groups such as Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS) were believed to be using the location.
Per a US official who wished to be anonymous, the strike was carried out in a way that would penalize the terrorist groups while making sure to prevent a greater hostility from happening.
The official said that Biden chose one of the most restrained responses based on a range of options presented to him in dealing with the issue.
The impact of the damage and potential casualties were not yet known.
The rocket strikes also came as both the US and Iran are considering regaining the 2015 nuclear agreement. The deal was nullified by former President Donald Trump in 2018.
Given the recent tensions between the nations, it was not clear if Tehran would be eager to get back on the table to resume the peace talks.
The US has been carrying out military strikes against the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia group in Iraq and Syria since late 2019 in retaliation to the groups’ rocket attacks against US forces in the middle east.
The hostility between the two nations grew higher during Trump’s terms, especially when the US killed top Iranian military general Qassem Soleimani while Iran responded with ballistic missile attacks against the US troops in Iraq. Both occurred last year.
Earlier this week, missile attacks hit Baghdad’s Green Zone, where the US embassy and other diplomatic offices are located. The Kata’ib Hezbollah group, one of the main Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq, however, denied any involvement in the assault.