Newly-inaugurated United States (US) President Joe Biden on Thursday, 25 February, directed US military airstrikes in eastern Syria, reported Reuters.
These airstrikes were against facilities belonging to militia that are backed, according to the Pentagon, by Iran. They came as a ‘caliberated response’ to rocket attacks against the US in Iraq, as per Reuters.
The damage wreaked by the the strike, and if there were any casualties, is not clear yet, reported Reuters.
These strikes seemed to be limited in scope, thereby, quite possibly limiting the chances of escalation.
Further, as per Reuters, the present US President’s call to strike only in Syria, and not in Iraq, allows Iraqi government some ‘breathing room’ as it carries out its probe on a 15 February attack that had injured a number of Americans.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement:
“At President (Joe) Biden’s direction, US military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilised by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria.”
Further, as per Kirby: "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.”
According to Reuters, Kirby also added that the strikes dismantled multiple facilities that were used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kata'ib Hezbollah (KH), and Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), at a border control point.
A US official also told Reuters, on condition of anonymity, that the purpose of the strikes was to send a signal that the United States wanted to punish the militias, but it did not want the situation to escalate into a bigger conflict.
The official also told Reuters that Biden was given a range of options, and one of the most limited responses was picked.
In the 15 February attack, rockets hit the US military base at Erbil International Airport, killing one non-American contractor and injuring a number of American contractors and a US service member.