U.S strikes Iranian-backed militant site in Syria: Pentagon

 

Washington: The U.S military struck facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran-backed armed groups on Thursday, saying President Joe Biden's new administration was sending Tehran a message after recent rocket attacks on U.S troop locations in Iraq.

In its first military action against Iran-linked groups since Biden became president five weeks ago, the U.S Defense Department said it had carried out airstrikes at a Syria-Iraq border control point used by those groups, destroying "multiple facilities."

"At President Biden's direction, U.S military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria," said spokesman John Kirby in a statement.

"These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," he said.

Kirby did not say whether there were any casualties in Thursday's attack.

But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 17 people were killed after the strike hit three trucks loaded with munitions coming from Iraq near the Syrian city of Bukamal.

The group said all the dead were from Iraq's state-sponsored Hashed al-Shaabi force, the umbrella group over many small militias that have ties to Iran.

Kirby said the location was used by Kataeb Hezbollah and Kataeb Sayyid al-Shuhada, two armed Iraqi Shiite groups under Hashed al-Shaabi.

The U.S action followed three rocket attacks on facilities in Iraq used by United States and coalition forces fighting the Islamic State group.

One of those strikes, on a military complex in the Kurdish region's capital Arbil on February 15, killed a civilian and a foreign contractor working with coalition forces, and injured several U.S contractors and a soldier.

The attacks in Iraq laid down a challenge to the new Biden administration just as it opened a door to resumed negotiations with Tehran over its alleged nuclear weapons program.

Last week, the administration offered talks with Iran led by European allies as it sought to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, left on the brink of collapse after the previous government of President Donald Trump withdrew from it.

 

 

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