One militia member was killed and two injured in the Feb. 25 U.S. strike on Iranian-backed fighters in Syria, which President Joe Biden told Congress was carried out to “protect and defend our personnel and our partners” from future attacks.
The Pentagon’s initial battle damage assessment included the casualty figures, and noted that nine buildings were damaged or destroyed, Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said in a March 1 briefing. The strikes targeted border crossing facilities used by the groups to take weapons into Iraq. The mission was to “remove the compound from their utilization” and send a signal to the militias, Kirby said.
Two USAF F-15Es conducted the strikes, employing seven precision-guided munitions on the complex, which was used by the Iranian-backed militias Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, according to a Pentagon statement.
The strikes came in response to a rocket attack on U.S. and coalition personnel on Feb. 15 in Erbil, Iraq. The 107mm rocket attack killed one Filipino contractor and wounded one U.S. service member and four U.S. contractors.
Biden, in a Feb. 27 letter to Congress, said the strike was consistent with his responsibility to protect U.S. citizens and pursuant to the U.S.’s right of self defense as outlined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
“The United States always stands ready to take necessary and proportionate action in self-defense, including when, as is the case here, the government of the state where the threat is located is unwilling or unable to prevent the use of its territory by non-state militia groups responsible for such attacks,” Biden wrote.