US military carry out airstrikes in Syria killing at least 17 Iran-backed fighters

The United States military carried out airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militia in Syria, the Pentagon said in statement.

The attack destroyed “multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups”, the statement said.

President Joe Biden approved the action in response to recent attacks against US and coalition personnel in Iraq.

The attacks were in retaliation to the killing of a civilian contractor, who was killed in a rocket attack on US targets in Iraq earlier this month.

A US service member and five other contractors were injured when the rockets hit sites in Irbil, including a base used by the US-led coalition.

Rockets have also struck US bases in Baghdad, including the Green Zone which houses the US embassy and other diplomatic missions.

The Pentagon named Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada as two of the Iran-backed militias it targeted in Thursday’s strike in eastern Syria.

It called the action a “proportionate military response” that was taken “together with diplomatic measures”, including consulting coalition partners.

“The operation sends an unambiguous message,” the Pentagon statement said.

“President Biden will act to protect American and Coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than a dozen pro-Iran fighters were killed.

“The strikes destroyed three lorries carrying munitions… There were many casualties. Preliminary indications are that at least 17 fighters were killed, all members of Popular Mobilisation Forces,” SOHR director Rami Abdul Rahman, told AFP news agency.