First US strike under Biden kills Iran-backed militiaman

Baghdad, Feb 27: A US airstrike in Syria targeted facilities belonging to a powerful Iranian-backed Iraqi armed group, killing one fighter and wounding several others, an Iraqi militia official said Friday, signalling the first military action undertaken by US President Joe Biden.
Pentagon officials said the strikes were retaliation for recent attacks on US interests in Iraq, including a rocket attack in northern Iraq on February 15 that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a US service member and other coalition troops.
John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said Friday that two Air Force F-15E aircraft launched seven missiles, fully destroying nine facilities and heavily damaging two other facilities, rendering the two “functionally destroyed.”
He said the facilities, at “entry control points” on the border, had been used by militia groups the US deems responsible for a number of recent attacks against US interests in Iraq. Kirby said the facilities hit in the attack were near Boukamal, on the Syrian side of the Iraq border, along the Euphrates River.
“This location is known to facilitate Iranian-aligned militia group activity,” he said.
He added that the US has preliminary information about casualties at the attack site, but he declined to release any details pending the completion of a broader assessment of damage inflicted.
He described the site as a “compound” that previously had been used by the Islamic State group when it held sway in the area.
The Iraqi militia official told The Associated Press that the strikes against the Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, hit an area along the border between the Syrian site of Boukamal facing Qaim on the Iraqi side.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak of the attack.
Syria war monitoring groups said the strikes hit trucks moving weapons to a base for Iranian-backed militias in Boukamal. (AP)

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