The Biden administration has confirmed the president ordered Sunday night airstrikes on multiple militant encampments along the Iraq-Syria border in order to "protect US personnel" - as an official Department of Defense statement in the aftermath indicated.
"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," the late Sunday statement reads. It was reportedly a "response" to ongoing drone attacks conducted by Iran-allied forces in both countries.
Such airstrikes began growing common place during the last year of the Trump administration amid growing tit-for-tat attacks between Iranian-backed Iraqi militias, but has been rare for the Biden White House, only happening one prior time in February that was publicly disclosed.
The DoD press statement added of this latest attack: "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."
"Specifically, the U.S. strikes targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, both of which lie close to the border between those countries. Several Iran-backed militia groups, including Kata'ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS), used these facilities."
U.S. Air Force F-15s and F-16s were used in the strikes tonight which took place ~6 pm ET (1 am local).— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) June 27, 2021
At least one facility used by Iran’s milita forces to launch and recover drones was destroyed: U.S. defense official
The US military additionally called it "necessary" - saying that "President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect US personnel."
So far there's no immediate reports of casualties, which will likely be coming in throughout the night. Some local sources are suggesting multiple dead and injured...
🇺🇸🇸🇾🇮🇶— Kaiser Galactic (@KaiserGalactic) June 27, 2021
For now 3 casualties were announced after 2 US strikes in Syria and one in Iraq
The strikes took place at the border between Syria and Iraq in the area of Abu Kamal pic.twitter.com/lXGLChpleZ
Crucially, nuclear talks with Iran have already entered a very uncertain end phase in Vienna - this action will likely further complicate negotiations, particularly if Tehran perceives that Biden is bent on ramping up anti-Iranian military actions once again in both Iraq and Syria, which nearly sucked Iran and the US into direct war, especially following the January 2020 assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.