The US military, led by Vice President Joe Biden, launched airstrikes near the Iraq-Syria border on Sunday targeting what it described as “facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups.”
Militias were exploiting the facilities to launch unmanned aerial vehicle strikes against US forces in Iraq, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
Three operational and weapons storage locations — two in Syria and one in Iraq — were attacked by the US military, according to Kirby.
He called the airstrikes “defensive,” claiming they were carried out in reaction to a “ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed organisations in Iraq against US objectives.”
“The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action design to limit the risk of escalation – but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message,” Kirby said.
According to international law, the United States exercised its right to self-defense. He added that the strikes were both required and suitably restricted in scope to counter the threat.
The strikes came at a critical juncture in Iran’s and US-Iran relations. Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner, was elected President of Iran last week. Mr. Biden will see Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the White House on Monday. The two are scheduled to discuss how the US and Iran may re-engage in the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), which Israel opposes.