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US forces in Syria strike after airstrikes against Iran-backed militias

US forces in Syria were hit by rockets a day after US troops It operates what Pentagon officials have called airborne “defense” in Iraq and Syria against Iran-backed militias.

Col. Wayne Marotto, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, an international coalition fighting Islamic State (IS), said at around 7:44 p.m. local time on Monday (12:44 p.m.). ET) US forces in Syria were hit by multiple rockets, no casualties and damage are assessed, he said on Twitter.

Marotto later tweeted that while under attack US forces in Syria responded in self-defense with artillery fire at the launch site.

Members of an Iraqi mobilization force hold a replica of a fellow PMF member killed by US airstrikes on the Syrian-Iraq border during a symbolic funeral in Baghdad, Iraq on Tuesday.Thai al-Sudani / Reuters

But the increase came a day after the Pentagon said U.S. air strikes It was aimed at the operations and depots used by Iran-backed armed groups at two sites in Syria and one in Iraq on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said the airstrikes were intended to deter and thwart attacks by Iran-backed groups on U.S. interests in Iraq.

“We have taken the necessary actions. which is designed to limit the risk of escalation. but also to send a clear and clear veto message,” he told reporters in Rome on Monday.

Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica McNalty said the targeted facilities were used by a network of Iran-backed militias. responsible for several recent attacks This applies to facilities that house US personnel in Iraq.

Iran-backed militias have carried out at least five “one-way” drone attacks on US facilities. and Allied officials in Iraq have been using it since April. as well as continued rocket attacks against the United States. and allied forces she added

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the airstrikes were “defensive” as they were fired in response to armed attacks. Several Iranian-backed militia groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, used the facility. Kirby added.

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The 14th Brigade of Popular Mobilization Forces, a state-sanctioned umbrella group for a handful of Iran-backed militias in Iraq, said four militiamen were killed in Sunday’s attack.

A symbolic funeral was held in Baghdad on Tuesday. Images published by various agencies It shows members of the Popular Mobilization Forces carrying mock coffins for those killed in Sunday’s air strikes down a street in the Iraqi capital.

The mobilization force said in a statement that those killed were working to prevent ISIS infiltration from Syria into Iraq. and is not involved in any activities with foreign forces in Iraq The group also denied the presence of an armory.

It said it reserves the right to retaliate and prosecute the perpetrators of the attacks.

A spokesman for the Iraqi army’s commander-in-chief also condemned the air strikes on Sunday. It described it as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty. “Explicit and unacceptable”

“Iraq renews its refusal to be a platform for liquidation,” the spokesman said.

in February President Joe Biden has ordered air strikes on buildings in Syria, which the Pentagon says were used by Iran-backed militias. in response to rocket attacks on US targets in neighboring Iraq

The operation was the Biden administration’s first use of military force.

Sunday’s air strikes come at a sensitive time for Iran-US relations. As delegations from both countries are trying to revive the tattered 2015 nuclear deal.

A 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers – the US, Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain – limits Tehran’s nuclear capacity in exchange for sanctions relief.

Former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2018 deal and imposed sanctions on the country again.

When asked on Monday, Does he hold Tehran responsible for militant attacks on US interests in Iraq? Blinken replied, “Well, the group involved in the recent attack Some of these are militiamen supported by Iran.”

When asked about US action If the armed forces continue to attack Blinken said Sunday’s air strikes and previous actions had shown Biden. It is “fully prepared” to take action to protect the interests, people and personnel of the United States.

The United States has had a rocky history with Iran-backed militias since the Iraq outbreak in 2008.

Before the US To withdraw troops from Iraq in 2011, Iran-backed militias have targeted US convoys. With improvised explosive devices, later in 2014 the United States and its armed forces found themselves battling enemies in the Islamic State (IS) group.

Then, under Trump violence erupted again between the two opponents. That ended with the deaths of top Iranian generals Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leaders of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq. in the US air raid in January 2020

Iran responded a few days later by firing more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi air bases home to US forces.

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