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The United States carried out airstrikes against facilities that, according to the Pentagon, belong to Iran-backed militia in Syria, Reuters reported, noting these were limited in scope.
“At President (Joe) Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby as quoted by Reuters.
One U.S. official told Reuters that Biden was presented with several options for a response and the airstrikes were among the most limited on the list.
“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,” he added.
The airstrikes come in response to a rocket attack earlier this month in Erbil, Kurdistan, which killed one U.S. serviceman and five civilian contractors. The attack was claimed by a Iran-affiliated Iraqi group.
"The American occupation will not be safe from our strikes in any inch of the homeland, and even in Kurdistan, where we promise we will carry out other qualitative operations," the group, called “The Guardians of the Blood Brigade”, said in a statement after the attack.
At the time, the White House said it was “outraged” by the attack and press secretary Jen Psaki said the President "reserves the right to respond in the time and manner of our choosing."
As every act of violence in the Middle East, the airstrikes will likely move oil prices higher because it might affect negotiations between Iran and the United States regarding the U.S.’s return to the Iran nuclear deal.
The U.S. has been careful to not lay the blame for the Erbil attacks on Iran, but tensions might yet spike after the retaliation, even though Iran has more to lose if the U.S. remains out of the nuclear deal.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com