US strike in Syria kills one, wounds several

BAGHDAD (AP) — A United States (US) airstrike in Syria targetted facilities belonging to a powerful Iranian-backed Iraqi armed group, killing one of their militiamen and wounding a number of others, an Iraqi militia official said yesterday.

The Pentagon said the strikes were retaliation for a rocket attack in Iraq earlier this month that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a US service member and other coalition troops.

The Iraqi militia official told The Associated Press (AP) that the strikes against the Kataeb Hezbollah 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 authorised 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.

“I’m confident in the target that we went after, we know what we hit,” Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters flying with him from California to Washington, shortly after the airstrikes which were carried out on Thursday evening Eastern Standard Time (EST).

The airstrike was the first military action undertaken by the Biden administration, which in its first weeks has emphasised its intent to put more focus on the challenges posed by China, even as Mideast threats persist.

Biden’s decision to attack in Syria did not appear to signal an intention to widen US military involvement in the region but rather to demonstrate a will to defend US troops in Iraq.

The US has in the past targetted facilities in Syria belonging to Kataeb Hezbollah, which it has blamed for numerous attacks targetting US personnel and interests in Iraq.