The United States Air Force conducted airstrikes on Iranian proxy militias. The strikes came after repeated drone attacks by the militias against bases that house U.S. and coalition personnel. 

On Sunday night, local time, U.S. F-15 Strike Eagle and F-16 Falcon aircraft on Sunday aircraft hit two targets in Syria and one in Iraq. Reportedly, the drone attacks, which have been ongoing for three months, had originated from these locations.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, “As demonstrated by this evening’s strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect U.S. personnel. Given the ongoing series of attacks by Iran-backed groups targeting U.S. interests in Iraq, the President directed further military action to disrupt and deter such attacks.”

“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,” Kirby added.

The Targeted Facilities Are Used by Several Iranian Militias

U.S. Air Force strikes back against Iranian proxy militias who had been using drones against U.S interests
Iranian drones, shown above paraded out in an exercise, are increasingly being used by proxy militias in Iraq and Syria. (File photo)

“The targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq.”

The U.S. airstrikes “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,” Kirby said. “Several Iran-backed militia groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), used these facilities.”

The F-15 and F-16 fighters returned to their bases safely, a defense official told FOX News and added that casualties were expected to be low due to the time the airstrikes were conducted.

Five militia members reportedly died in the attack. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a watchdog of the Syrian civil war, said several more militia members were wounded. SANAA, the official Syrian news agency, reported that one child was killed and three civilians were wounded. 

Navy Cmdr. Jessica McNulty, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said to Military Times that the airstrikes were proportional and in response to repeated drone or UAV attacks against the U.S.-led coalition.

“Iran-backed militias have conducted at least five one-way UAV attacks against facilities used by U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq since April as well as ongoing rocket attacks against U.S. and coalition forces,” she said.

Iran Accuses the US of Destabilizing the Region

F-16s (shown above) and F-15s were used in the airstrikes against Iranian proxy militias early on Monday morning.

Iran accused the United States of “creating a crisis” in the region. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, “Certainly what the United States is doing is disrupting security in the region, and one of the victims of this disruption will be the United States.”

Iraq’s government has struggled to rein in the Iranian proxy militias who are ostensibly on the same side as the U.S. coalition in fighting ISIS and are supposed to fall under the Iraqi military. However, they routinely flaunt the Iraqi military and have made it clear that they follow orders from Tehran. 

The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi issued a rare statement of condemnation of the U.S. airstrikes, wary of being sucked into the vortex of increased U.S.-Iran violence. 

Meanwhile, the limited scope of the U.S. airstrike is a sign that the White House is still hoping to get the Iranians to agree to a new version of the nuclear deal

Suggested reading:
The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran
After Isis: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East