On Sunday, the United States said it launched another round of airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, this time in response to militia drone attacks on US personnel and facilities in Iraq.
The US military said in a statement that it attacked operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq.
He did not say whether he believed anyone was killed or injured, but officials said the assessment was ongoing.
The strikes were directed by President Joe Biden, who has issued a second order to retaliate against Iranian-backed militias since taking office five months ago.
Biden last ordered limited strikes on Syria in February, this time in response to rocket attacks on Iraq.
“As the strikes delivered tonight showed, President Biden made it clear that he would act to protect US personnel,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The strikes have come even as the Biden administration is trying to renew the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
The decision to retaliate appears to show how Biden seeks to split such defensive strikes while engaging Tehran in diplomacy.
Biden’s critics say Iran cannot be trusted and point to drone attacks as further proof that Iran and its henchmen will never allow a US military presence in Iraq or Syria.
Biden and the White House declined to comment on Sunday’s strikes.
But Biden will meet with outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the White House on Monday for a broad discussion that will include Iranian and US efforts to re-enter a nuclear deal with Iran. These efforts have raised serious concerns in Israel, Iran’s arch-enemy.
US officials believe Iran is behind the escalation of increasingly sophisticated drone attacks and periodic rocket attacks on US personnel and facilities in Iraq, where the US military is helping Baghdad fight the remnants of the Islamic State.
Two US officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Iranian-backed militias have launched at least five drone attacks since April on targets used by US and coalition personnel in Iraq.
The Pentagon said the targets attacked were used by Iranian-backed militias, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada.
One of the targets hit was used to launch and restore unmanned aerial vehicles, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.
The US military launched the strikes with F-15 and F-16 aircraft, officials said, adding that the pilots returned safely from the mission.
“We measure every hit against the intended targets,” one official told Reuters.
The Iraqi government is struggling to deal with militias with ideological ties to Iran, who are accused of firing missiles at US forces and involvement in the killings of peaceful democratic activists.
Earlier in June, Iraq released a militia commander with ties to Iran, Qasim Muslikh, who was arrested in May on terrorism charges after authorities found insufficient evidence against him.