The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, considered this Monday that the attacks against pro-Iranian militias in Iraq and Syria sent a “strong message” to all who are opposing the US Armed Forces.
This self-defense action, designed to prevent further attacks, sends a very important and strong message”, Blinken told journalists in Rome, where he participated in the opening of a conference of foreign ministers of the coalition that fights against the group Islamic State (EI), considering that the organization still stands as a “threat to the world”.
“I want to believe that this message sent by the Sunday night attacks will be heard and will serve as a deterrent to future actions” from the pro-Iran militias, he added.
According to the Pentagon, attacks were carried out on operational centers and arms depots at two sites in Syria and one target in Iraq, facilities used by militias backed by Iran.
Asked whether the United States held Iran responsible for the attacks, Blinken replied that “some groups involved in the recent attacks” are “militias supported by Iran”.
On Sunday, US air strikes killed four civilians in Syria, including a child, and pro-Iran fighters in Iraq, who threatened to “avenge the martyrs”.
On the same day, the United States announced an attack on Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, in response to increased drone attacks [aparelhos aéreos não tripulados] against their interests in Iraq.
In Tehran, Iran accused the United States of following “a wrong path in the region” and “altering security” in the Middle East with Sunday’s bombing.
“What the US is doing is changing security in the region and it will be one of the victims of that insecurity,” warned Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Jatibzadeh.
At the weekly press conference, the spokesman advised Washington to rectify its policies and stop interfering in the region’s internal affairs with “emotional behaviors and creating crisis and tension.”
Also today, in a statement, the Iraqi army denounced the attacks, considering them a “blatant violation of the sovereignty” of its country.
For their part, paramilitaries of Hachd al-Chaabi (People’s Mobilization Forces), a coalition that brings together all pro-Iran forces in Iraq, admitted today the attacks caused the death of “a handful of fighters”.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby explained in a statement that, by order of President Joe Biden, US forces had carried out defensive “precision” bombing against facilities of armed groups backed by Tehran.
The air strikes were against weapons storage and operations centers, two of them in Syria and one in Iraq.
This is the second US bombing of its kind on Syrian territory against alleged pro-Iranian militia positions since Biden came to power.
In late February, US aviation bombed positions and an arms shipment of Iraqi militias supported by the Popular Mobilization Forces and Kataib Hezbollah. At the time, several sources estimated that the death toll in that action was between one and 22.
US interests in Iraq have been the target of repeated attacks in recent months. The US systematically accuses pro-Iran factions, notably the Popular Mobilization Forces, of being responsible.