WASHINGTON - US President Joe Biden said Thursday that US air and artillery strikes that killed four militants in eastern Syria were ordered to protect US forces from attacks by Iran-backed militia.
“I directed the August 23 strikes in order to protect and defend the safety of our personnel . . . and to deter the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran-backed militia groups from conducting or supporting further attacks on United States personnel and facilities,” Biden said in a statement informing Congress of the action.
He said the US strikes, the heaviest action by American forces in the region in many months, responded to a series of rocket attacks on the facilities of US and partner troops in the area, including two on the al-Tanf Garrison and the Mission Support Site Green Village on August 15.
Biden said the retaliatory strikes, which involved Apache attack helicopters, AC-130 gunships and M777 artillery, targeted a facility used by the attackers for logistics and ammunition storage. The first US strikes took place on Tuesday. But after the militants launched a new barrage on US positions on Wednesday, a heftier force of American aircraft flew in to push back. In total four militants were killed and seven rocket launchers destroyed, the US Central Command, which oversees Middle East operations, said in a statement