The U.S. military launched airstrikes against Iranian-backed terrorists near the Iraq-Syria border late on Sunday evening in response to those groups using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to attack U.S. forces in Iraq.
“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,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “Several Iran-backed militia groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), used these facilities.”
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) June 28, 2021
The U.S. Military reportedly used F-15s and F-16s during the airstrike and at least one facility was believed to have been destroyed. An official told Fox News that they did not expect that there would be very many causalities from the operation.
The strikes come a week after Iran elected a hardliner, Ebrahim Raisi, as its next president and also comes at the same time that the Biden administration is urging Iran to reenter the highly controversial Iran Nuclear Deal.
The New York Times reported:
At least five times since April, the Iranian-backed militias have used small, explosive-laden drones that divebomb and crash into their targets in late-night attacks on Iraqi bases — including those used by the C.I.A. and U.S. Special Operations units, according to American officials. So far, no Americans have been hurt in the attacks, but officials worry about the precision of the drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles, or U.A.V.s.
Terrorism expert Max Abrahams highlighted a portion of the Department of Defense’s statement about the strikes that said that the U.S. was only in Iraq for ISIS.
“We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq for the sole purpose of assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to defeat ISIS,” the statement said. “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.”
Abrahams raised the question of whether the statement was conveying that the U.S. was not in Iraq to “contain Iran.”
The Pentagon says we’re in Iraq for the sole purpose of countering ISIS.
Not to contain Iran? pic.twitter.com/eUzvv3vXcN
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) June 28, 2021
“As a matter of international law, the United States acted pursuant to its right of self-defense,” the statement added. “The strikes were both necessary to address the threat and appropriately limited in scope. As a matter of domestic law, the President took this action pursuant to his Article II authority to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.