Blinken says US airstrikes on Iraq & Syria send ‘clear’ message to Iran-backed militias

Blinken says US airstrikes on Iraq & Syria send ‘clear’ message to Iran-backed militias

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has defended US airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia targets either side of the Iraq/Syria border, claiming they were “necessary” and “appropriate” to send a “clear” message to these groups.

The US conducted airstrikes against what the Pentagon said were “facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region” on Sunday. The strikes, the Pentagon added, were launched “at President Biden’s direction,” and ordered after drone strikes by these militias against US personnel and facilities in Iraq.

READ MORE: Pentagon announces strikes on Iraq-Syria border ‘at Biden’s direction’

The strikes were condemned by the Iraqi government as “a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty,” but Blinken defended them on Monday.

“We took necessary, appropriate, deliberate action that is designed to limit the risk of escalation, but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message,” he told reporters while on a visit to Rome, Italy.

Neither the Defense Department nor Blinken elaborated on how many people were killed in the strikes, but Iraqi militia groups have confirmed that at least four members of Kataib Sayyed al-Shuhada militia died.

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Blinken’s “message” was likely aimed at Tehran as much as the militias themselves. Iran has accused Washington of “creating crisis” in the region, and foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stated on Monday that “one of the victims of this disruption will be the United States.”

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