The US is conducting air strikes in Syria on Iran-backed targets

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The US conducted its first military action under President Joe Biden on Thursday, targeting the infrastructure used by Iranian-backed militant groups in Syria in response to recent missile attacks in Iraq.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters who traveled with him Thursday night that he recommended the strike to Mr Biden, who approved the permit in a phone call that morning.

“The operation sends a clear message: President Biden will act to protect the staff of the American coalition,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

In particular, Kirby said the strikes destroyed several facilities at a border checkpoint used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kait’ib Hezbollah and Kait’ib Sayyid al Shuhada.

Last week a missile attack in Erbil killed a non-American citizen and injured four American contractors and one American service member.

A total of eight contractors were injured, two serious enough to be evacuated.

The United States had evidence that the strike in Erbil was carried out with Iranian-supplied equipment. The attack on Erbil consisted of 14 missiles, six more were still on the carrier rails.

The most recent air strike against Iran-backed militias took place in December 2019 and hit targets in both Iraq and Syria. It remains to be seen how Iran will react to Thursday’s strike.

Eleanor Watson contributed to the coverage.

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