President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes against several facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq and Syria on Sunday in response to attacks against American military personnel in the region, the Pentagon said.
“The targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement. “Specifically, the U.S. strikes targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, both of which lie close to the border between those countries.”
He said the strikes were “necessary to address the threat and appropriately limited in scope.”
Sunday’s strikes were the second time Biden has ordered such military action in the region. In February, the president ordered retaliatory strikes against targets identified by the Pentagon as buildings belonging to Iran-backed militia groups it said were responsible for attacks against Americans and allied forces in Iraq.
The New York Times reports the militias have used small drones packed with explosives to crash into Iraqi bases in recent months, including sites that are hosting CIA and U.S. Special Operations units.
“Given the ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting U.S. interests in Iraq, the president directed further military action to disrupt and deter such attacks,” Kirby said Sunday. “The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation — but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message.”