US bombs facilities in Syria used by Iran-backed militia

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"These strikes were authorised in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel", he said.

The US struck eastern Syria, it claimed were being used by Iran-backed armed groups. "It was an attack on a site meant to send two separate messages".

Officials have noted that in the past, Iranian-backed Shiite militia groups have been responsible for numerous rocket attacks that targeted USA personnel or facilities in Iraq. "One in Baghdad and one at the air base north of Baghdad".

Following news of the strike, Americans on both sides of the political aisle criticized Biden on social media for the bombings in Syria over fears of starting another war, with some frustrated that the action took priority over delivering further COVID-19 relief.

Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, former commanding general for Europe, praised the airstrike on CNN as a "good" and "proportional response" to the Iranian government, and the "continual harassment" by these Iranian militias.

Kirby called Thursday's strikes "proportionate" and said it "was conducted together with diplomatic measures", including consultation with United States partners in the anti-IS coalition.

Kirby had said Tuesday that Iraq is in charge of investigating the February 15 attack.

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"President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel".

Some Western and Iraqi officials say the attacks, often claimed by little-known groups, are being carried out by militants with links to Kata'ib Hezbollah as a way for Iranian allies to harass US forces without being held accountable. A week later, a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone appeared to target the U.S. Embassy compound, but no one was hurt.

The group said all the dead were from Iraq's state-sponsored Hashed al-Shaabi force, the umbrella group over many small militias that have ties to Iran.

Earlier this week, the Kata'ib Hezbollah group, one of the main Iran-aligned Iraqi militia groups, denied any role in the rocket attacks. The country faced two attacks by the US military during former President Donald Trump's tenure, both over President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons in the conflict. Both were key in commanding and controlling a wide array of Iran-backed groups operating in Iraq.

Trump had said the death of a USA contractor would be a red line and provoke US escalation in Iraq.

On February 15, rockets hit the US military base at Erbil International Airport killing one non-American contractor and injuring a number of American contractors and a USA service member.

USA forces have been significantly reduced in Iraq to 2,500 personnel and no longer partake in combat missions with Iraqi forces in ongoing operations against the Islamic State group.

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