Biden orders ‘defensive’ airstrikes in Iraq, Syria: Reports

The Biden administration launched airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on Sunday evening targeting Iran-backed militias, the Daily Mail reports, in what the White House has described as a “defensive” attack.

The “precision” strikes reportedly targeted three bases near the border between Iraq and Syria, and were said to be in response to drone attacks on American bases.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that America is in Iraq “for the sole purpose” of helping Iraq defeat ISIS, but that the strikes were “necessary, appropriate, and deliberate” to defend American forces targeted by the militias.

U.S. launches airstrikes

American pilots returned without harm, and Fox News reported that the militia groups, which included Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), are not expected to suffer “a lot” of casualties.

They are part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella term for mostly Shiite militias that formed in 2014 to fight ISIS and that were later included in Iraq’s Security Forces.

According to the BBC, the PMF said that at least four of its fighters were killed while on an official, state-sanctioned mission to prevent ISIS from entering Iraq, and they vowed to take revenge.

Tit-for-tat attacks between America and Iran’s proxies have become more frequent as tensions have risen between America and Iran. In early 2020, such attacks culminated in a deadly strike that took out Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and the former leader of Kata’ib Hezbollah, which has been involved in attacks on American forces in Iraq since the 2000s and which America considers a terrorist group, reports note.

Iraq condemns “unacceptable” attack

Biden’s strike left Democrats divided, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) praising it as an appropriate response, according to the Daily Mail, and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) lamenting what he said were mounting, unchecked hostilities in Iraq bringing America closer to war with Iran.

“The pace of activity directed at U.S forces and the repeated retaliatory strikes against Iranian proxy forces are starting to look like what would qualify as a pattern of hostilities under the War Powers Act,” Murphy said.

Iraq has frequently condemned American airstrikes within its borders, and it did not hesitate to do so again.

“We condemn the U.S. air attack that targeted a site last night on the Iraqi-Syrian border, which represents a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security,” military spokesman Major General Yehia Rasool said, according to the BBC.

Biden previously targeted Iran’s proxies in February, Fox noted, in his first military action as president. According to the BBC, there are still roughly 2,500 American troops in Iraq.

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