US airstrikes hit Iran-backed militias in Syria and Iraq

Warplanes have targeted facilities on Sunday under “defensive precision” rationale.

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US warplanes hit operational and weapons storage facilities used by Iran-backed militia in the Iraq-Syria border region. The Pentagon released a statement saying that two targets in Syria and one another in Iraq were hit. The facilities are argued to be used by several militia groups, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, according to the Pentagon.

The strikes in Iraq’s Anbar province killed at least four members belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi forces.

Although the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense did not provide any information on casualties, a war monitor reported the death of five militias in Syria. The UK-based information office Syrian Observatory for Human Rights corrected that several more fighters were wounded while the news agency Sana, affiliated with the Assad regime, claims a child had died and at least three other people were wounded.

The attack was launched in response to drone attacks targeting US forces in Iraq. US President Joe Biden is assuring that US personnel would be protected. The Pentagon’s statement underlines that the US took “necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation – but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message”.

The Spokesperson for the Iraqi Commander-in-Chief, Yehia Rasool released a statement condemning and rejecting the attacks. “This attack is a clear violation of Iraqi sovereignty and national security,” the statement read.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, Spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, reacted to the news in a weekly press conference. Khatibzadeh accused the American administration of destabilizing the region. “The US will be one of the victims of such a destabilization,” he argued.

Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada released a statement in response to the attacks threatening to start “an open war against the ‘American occupation’.”

This is the second round of airstrikes that President Biden ordered since coming to office. The first military action was taken on February 25 in retaliation for rocket attacks on US targets in neighboring Iraq. Local reports had cited the death of at least 22 people, while the Pentagon similarly advocated that the attacks were defensive and proportional in nature. The Pentagon stated it is using Article II of the Constitution that grants the president powers as commander-in-chief and Article 51 of the UN Charter that grants countries the right to self-defense in response to an attack.

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