US forces carried out so-called “defensive” air strikes in Iraq and Syria on Sunday against Iran-backed militias who were behind drone strikes on American personnel.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement that the air strikes targeted operational facilities and weapons caches in two locations in Syria and one in Iraq. The facilities were used by at least two militias, Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, Kirby said.
Kirby added that President Joe Biden, who approved the attacks, “directed further military action to disrupt and deter attacks on US facilities and personnel in Iraq.”
Kirby said these attacks were “ongoing”.
“We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government for the sole purpose of assisting the Iraqi security forces in their efforts to combat IS,” said Kirby. “The United States has taken necessary, appropriate, and deliberate measures to limit the risk of escalation – but also to send a clear and unequivocal dissuasive message.”
Syrian state news agency SANA reported that a child and three other civilians were injured, but NBC News has not independently confirmed this.
The air strikes come as the Biden administration is considering lifting sanctions on Iran in an attempt to revive the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated under the Obama administration, which seeks to blunt Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity.
Former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal three years ago because he argued that it was aimed at Iran. The Trump administration also imposed harmful sanctions on the country.
US forces launched air strikes earlier this year against the same Iran-backed militias that the Pentagon said were behind a missile strike in northern Iraq. The attack killed a Filipino contractor working with a US-led military coalition and injured six people, including a Louisiana National Guard soldier and four American contractors.