Biden orders airstrikes on Iran-backed militias near Iraq-Syria border

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The U.S. said the strikes were “to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq.”

President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes this weekend on Iran-backed militias near the Iraq-Syria border in response to unmanned aerial vehicle attacks, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

“At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region,” Kirby said in a statement Sunday. “The targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq.”

Kirby said the U.S. acted within its legal rights and was a matter of self-defense.

“The strikes were both necessary to address the threat and appropriately limited in scope,” Kirby’s statement said. “As a matter of domestic law, the President took this action pursuant to his Article II authority to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq.”

A defense official told ABC News this is the second such attack ordered under the Biden administration, the last being on Feb. 25 against Iranian-backed militia groups in response to rocket attacks.

Since Feb. 25, there have been five “one-way UAV attacks,” as well as “dozens of rocket attacks,” on U.S. and coalition facilities in the region, which is what spurred Sunday’s airstrikes, the official said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.