Saturday, 17 Apr 2021

President Joe Biden orders airstrike after rocket attack against US forces

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US President Joe Biden has ordered an airstrike against Iran-backed militia following rocket attacks against US forces in Iraq.

Pentagon confirmed the airstrike on Iranian-backed Militia in Eastern Syria In response to recent attacks against US personnel.

While the strike could be the first retaliatory moves by the United States following last week's attacks, the move appeared to be limited in scope, potentially lowering the risk of escalation.

Also a decision to strike only in Syria and not in Iraq would give the Iraqi government some breathing room as it carries out its own investigation of a February 15 attack that wounded Americans.

"This proportionate military response was conducted together with diplomatic measures, including consultation with coalition partners," the Pentagon's chief spokesman John Kirby said in announcing the strikes.

"The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to deescalate the overall situation in eastern Syria and Iraq," he added.

It was not immediately clear what damage was caused and if there were any casualties from the US strike.

Retaliatory US military strikes have occurred a number of times in the past few years.

The rocket attacks on US positions in Iraq were carried out as Washington and Tehran are looking for a way to return to the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by former US President Donald Trump.

  • One dead and six wounded in triple rocket attack near international airport

In the February 15 attack, rockets hit the US military base housed at Erbil International Airport in the Kurdish-run region killing one non-American contractor and injuring a number of American contractors and a U.S. service member.

Another salvo struck a base hosting U.S. forces north of Baghdad days later hurting at least one contractor.

Rockets hit Baghdad's Green Zone on Monday which houses the U.S. embassy and other diplomatic missions.

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Earlier this week, the Kataib Hezbollah group, one of the main Iran-aligned Iraqi militia group, denied any role in recent rocket attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq.

Some Western and Iraqi officials say the attacks, often claimed by little-known groups, are being carried out by militants with links to Kataib Hezbollah as a way for Iranian allies to harass U.S. forces without being held accountable.

Since late 2019, the United States carried out high-profile strikes against the Kataib Hezbollah militia group in Iraq and Syria in response to sometimes deadly rocket attacks against U.S.-led forces.

Under the Trump administration, the escalator back-and-forth stoked tensions, culminating in the U.S. killing of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani and a retaliatory Iranian ballistic missile attack against U.S. forces in Iraq last year.

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