US airstrike on Iran-backed facilities along Iraqi-Syrian border killed several militiamen: report

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US military action against three installations along the Iraqi-Syrian border has resulted in a number of casualties.

President Joe Biden led attacks on three militia facilities used by several Iran-backed groups engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks on US personnel and facilities in Iraq.

The strikes took place around 6 p.m. Eastern time or 1 a.m. local time on Sunday. The action, which Pentagon press secretary John Kirby called “defensive,” killed between four and seven militiamen.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)
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Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

Two Iraqi militia officials told The Associated Press that the first strike on a weapons storage facility inside Syrian territory killed four militiamen, but the British group The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the number was at least seven.

A US defense official familiar with the strikes told Fox News he did not expect “many casualties” from the timing of the strikes.

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At least one facility used by Iranian militia forces to launch and recover drones has been destroyed, the official added. Recent crude drone strikes have targeted Americans in Baghdad and Erbil in northern Iraq.

Sunday’s airstrikes are the latest operation against Iranian-backed military groups, following President Biden’s first known military action in February, when an airstrike targeted a compound in Syria operated by Kait’ib Hezbollah ( KH) and Kait’ib Sayyid al Shuhada (KSS).

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Kirby claimed those same groups were operating the facilities destroyed in Sunday’s action.

Iranian-backed Iraqi militia factions have vowed revenge for the attack and said in a joint statement that they will continue to target US forces.

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“We (…) will avenge the blood of our righteous martyrs against the perpetrators of this heinous crime and with the help of God, we will make the enemy taste the bitterness of revenge,” said the militias.

The Iraqi military condemned the strikes as a “flagrant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and national security” in a rare condemnation of US airstrikes.

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Senate Democrats meanwhile urged Biden to explain the reason for the airstrikes, with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. Expressing concern that “the pace of activity … is starting to look like what might be considered a pattern of hostilities under the War Powers Act. ”

Lucas Tomlinson and Lucas Manfredi of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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