US airstrikes on Iraqi militias send ‘strong message’, says Antony Blinken
US airstrikes against Iranian-backed Iraqi militias on the Syrian-Iraqi border overnight sent a “strong message” of deterrence in the wake of recent drone attacks on US targets in Iraq, said Monday. State Secretary Antony Blinken.
At least four militiamen were killed by the strikes which the US military said targeted facilities used to launch drone attacks against US interests in Iraq.
Speaking to reporters in Rome on Monday, Mr Blinken said that Joe Biden, the US President, had acted decisively to protect US personnel, ordering the second such strike against Iraqi militias since his inauguration in January.
“This self-defense action – to do what is necessary to prevent further attacks – I think sends a very important and strong message. And I really hope it will be received,” Blinken said.
Pro-Iranian Iraqi paramilitary groups have pledged retaliation after naming four members of the Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada militia killed in the attack.
Since late 2019, Iranian-backed Iraqi militias have carried out more than 300 attacks against US interests in Iraq, killing four in the United States and about 25 others, according to the US military.
There have been at least five explosive-laden drone attacks since April, two US officials told Reuters.
Washington believes the attacks are being carried out at Tehran’s request to increase pressure on Washington as the two enemies consider a potential return to the 2015 nuclear deal, which former US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.
The latest strike suggests that the Biden administration is seeking to compartmentalize the ongoing negotiations from broader US responses to Iranian activity and against Iranian proxies.
Iran responded by calling on the United States to avoid “creating a crisis” in the region.
“It is certain that what the United States is doing is disrupting security in the region, and one of the victims of this disruption will be the United States,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed said yesterday. Khatibzadeh.
Mr Blinken was speaking at an anti-Islamic State (IS) alliance summit in Rome, where he called for a new international effort to repatriate and rehabilitate or prosecute ISIS prisoners held in Syria.