The United States struck the infrastructure of pro-Iranian militias in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border on Thursday, Feb. 25. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), a non-governmental organization, the first wave of attacks killed at least 17 people, all of them pro-Iranian Iraqi militias. This is the first wave of military action since Biden came to power in response to recent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.
In a statement, Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said the military operation was “defensive” and destroyed “multiple facilities used by the Iranian-backed Iraqi Hezbollah militia (Kataeb Hezbollah) along the border. “
The strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks and continued threats against U.S. and international coalition personnel in Iraq,” he said.
According to preliminary information provided by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the U.S. strike destroyed three trucks loaded with ammunition that had arrived from Iraq at an illegal crossing point south of the Syrian city of Boukamal.
The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahmane, told AFP that preliminary assessments indicate that at least 17 jihadists were killed in the U.S. attack, all of them militiamen of the pro-Iranian Iraqi Popular Mobilization (Hashd al-Shaabi) group.
Three recent attacks in Iraq have been attributed to pro-Iranian Iraqi militant groups: On Monday, rockets landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. On Saturday, an Iraqi employee of a U.S. company responsible for maintaining F-16s was wounded in an artillery attack on Iraq’s Balad air base further north, and on Feb. 15, rockets struck Erbil airport, Home to international coalition forces in northern Iraq, killing two people, including a foreign civilian contractor working with coalition forces.
While the Iraqi Hezbollah militia did not claim responsibility for the attacks, U.S. Defense Secretary Austin assured that the powerful pro-Iranian group was indeed responsible for the attacks. He said, “We know who we hit.”