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US launches airstrikes in Syria against Iranian-backed forces

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The bombings were in retaliation for attacks against American personnel in Iraq

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The United States military has carried out airstrikes in Syria against Iranian-backed forces in the war-torn nation at the authorization of President Joe Biden.

According to the Pentagon, the bombings were in response to recent attacks against American personnel in Iraq.

What are the details?

Fox News reported that the U.S. hit multiple facilities in an Iranian-backed militia stronghold, and that according to a senior official, "the strike was a defensive strategy, intended to halt and deter future rocket attacks by the militia group that recently hit Baghdad and Erbil."

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told the outlet:

"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 and Kait'ib Sayyid al Shuhada. 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 coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to deescalate the overall situation in both Eastern Syria and Iraq."

Last week, an American service member and several American contractors were killed in a rocket attack in Erbil, within Iraq's northern Kurdistan region. Then on Monday, two rockets hit near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, in the third attack within the past week.

According to Reuters, U.S. officials said the "decision to strike only in Syria and not in Iraq would give the Iraqi government some breathing room as it carries out its own investigation of a Feb. 15 attack that wounded Americans."

Following news of the strike, Americans on both sides of the political aisle criticized Biden on social media for the bombings in Syria over fears of starting another war, with some frustrated that the action took priority over delivering further COVID-19 relief.

Libertarian-leaning Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) tweeted in response to the airstrikes, "@POTUS dragging the US into Syria's civil war is a huge mistake. I strongly condemn this foolish military adventurism."

Supporters of former President Donald Trump were also quick to remind followers that he did not launch any new military engagements over the past four years.

Americans are paying particular attention to the strike because it occurred little over a month into the Biden administration, as the nation continues to grapple with whether or not — and how — to end long-term occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The New York Times reported in reaction to Thursday's bombing of Syria:

The deliberateness of the new administration's approach has raised questions both in Washington and in Baghdad about where Mr. Biden's red lines are when it comes to responding to attacks from Iranian-backed militias that target Americans in Iraq.
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