President Joe Biden ordered missile strikes against Iranian-backed militias in Northern Syria on Thursday in retaliation to the Iran-backed rocket attacks against U.S. bases in Iraq.
Biden ordered the strikes against facilities near Syria’s border with Iraq that the militias use. The Department of Defense (DOD) statement did not specify whether the strikes inflicted casualties beyond the structures. Iranian-backed militias fired rockets at both the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and another U.S. base in Iraq in recent weeks.
“At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria. These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel,” the Department of Defense announced Thursday night. (RELATED: Iran Ends Nuclear Deal Commitment, Will No Longer Limit Uranium Enrichment)
Just in: DoD conducts “defensive precision strike” in eastern Syria. pic.twitter.com/oGxhnEPlCQ
— Hope Hodge Seck (@HopeSeck) February 26, 2021
“This proportionate military response was conducted together with diplomatic measures, including consultation with Coalition partners. The operation sends an unambiguous message: 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,” the statement continued.
The Biden administration has started off on rocky footing in Iran diplomacy, with Biden seeking a return to the Iran nuclear deal but also requiring the country to re-enter it first before the U.S. will remove sanctions.
Former President Donald Trump’s administration withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal in 2018, arguing the deal was weak and Iran wasn’t holding up its end of the bargain. The U.S. departure led Iran to continue its drift from the deal’s requirements, and the Biden administration has said it is willing to end sanctions if Iran returns to upholding its end of the agreement.
“The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in a Thursday statement.