U.S. President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes against Iranian-backed militia group Kait’ib Hezbollah in Syria to retaliate for a recent rocket strike in Erbil, Iraq, which left several American personnel injured. The airstrikes targeted structures in the town of Abu Kamal on the Euphrates river in eastern Syria near the border with Iraq.
Pentagon Press Secretary Brett McGurk announced at 6:32 p.m. Thursday, February 25, 2021 that …
“(a)t President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in easter Syria. These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel. Specifically, the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kait’ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kait’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS).
“This proportionate military response was conducted together with diplomatic measures, including consultation with Coalition partners. The operation sends an unambiguous message: President Biden will act to protect American and 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.”
Kait’ib Hezbollah (KH), founded in 2003, is an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group which is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces supported by Iran. KH has been active in the War in Iraq (2013–2017) and the Syrian Civil War. During the Iraq War, the KH fought against coalition occupation forces.
KH and other Iraqi Shia militias s fought in Syria alongside forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad against the Sunni rebels seeking to overthrow him in the Syrian Civil War (ongoing since 2011).
Kait’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), founded in 2013, is an Iraqi Shia militia with a stated mission to protect “(Shia) shrines across the globe”, preserve “Iraqi unity” and to “put an end to the sectarian conflict”.
KSS is active in Syria, where its main objective is the protection of the Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque in the southern suburbs of Damascus. KSS supports the al-Assad Government in the Syria Civil War, and engaged in the Battle of Al-Shaykh Maskin in December 2014 in support of the Syrian army.
KSS has also been described as an Iranian proxy, and is one of the original militias that formed the Popular Mobilization Forces in 2014. The group has close ties to the Badr Organization — an Iraqi Shia Islamist political party and military organization that is also part of the Popular Mobilization Forces.
Exclusive: The U.S. carried out an airstrike in Syria against a structure belonging to what it said were Iran-backed militia, two U.S. officials told @Reuters. The strike comes after a series of recent rocket attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq https://t.co/2HoLLYjEhv
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 26, 2021
The U.S. conducted a military airstrike in eastern Syria along the border with Iraq targeting Iranian-backed militias in retaliation for a recent rocket strike in Erbil in northern Iraq that left several Americans injured, according to a U.S. official. https://t.co/WqbTFUkAkY
— ABC News (@ABC) February 26, 2021
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