The Pentagon said on Thursday that the U.S. had launched airstrikes in Syria, targeting facilities near the Iraqi border used by Iranian-backed militia groups.
The strikes are said to be in retaliation for a rocket attack in Iraq last Monday that killed one civilian contractor and wounded six people including military personnel from the U.S. and other coalition members.
Flying with reporters from California to Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the recent airstrike was his recommendation to the president who approved the strike.
"We're confident that that target was being used by the same Shia militants that conducted the strikes."
Citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights the AFP reported that 17 people were killed in the airstrike.
Earlier, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. action was a "proportionate military response" to protect American and coalition personnel and that the U.S. had acted in a deliberate manner aimed at de-escalating the overall situation in eastern Syria and Iraq.
Kirby said the U.S. airstrikes had destroyed multiple facilities at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups including Kait'ib Hezbollah accused of carrying out numerous attacks targeting U.S. personnel and interests in Iraq in the past.
The AP reported the airstrike did not appear to signal an intention to widen U.S. military involvement in the region but rather to demonstrate a will to defend U.S. troops in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the AFP said the retaliatory move was carried out in a low-key manner considering the Biden administration's push to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to halt Iran's nuclear development.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.