Friday Feb 26, 2021
A little over a month after he took oath as the President of the United States, Joe Biden has taken his first military action as US forces conducted strikes in Syria on Friday.
According to the Pentagon, the strikes targeted Iranian militias in response to rocket attacks on US forces in the region over the past two weeks.
A US official quoted by CNN said that "up to a handful" of militants had been killed in the attack.
Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said that the militia that was struck by the American forces was the same one involved in the rocket attacks on the US and coalition forces.
John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesperson, confirmed that the attack took place "at President Biden's direction" and was authorised to respond to the recent attacks on US forces and also, to send a message to forces who were targeting the US and coalition personnel.
"Specifically, the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kata'ib Hezbollah and Kata'ib Sayyid al Shuhada," Kirby said. "The operation sends an unambiguous message; President Biden will act to protect American 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 site struck by the US forces is believed to be the location of a smuggling operation conducted by the militia. A US official said that the main aim of the operation was to thwart the militia's ability to carry out attacks.
The decision, Austin clarified, had been taken by the US president and authorised on Thursday morning after he recommended that action be taken against the militants.
Speaking to the press, Austin said that the US was "confident in the target we went after", adding that "we know what we hit".
"We allowed and encouraged the Iraqis to investigate and develop intelligence, and that was very helpful to us in refining the target," he said.
The Pentagon further clarified that the US president had authorised the attack after consulting allies.