At around 1:30 am locally on Friday, February 26, 2021, the US government undertook its first military strike under Joe Biden’s presidency. The attack took place near the Syrian-Iraqi border; specifically, a compound that the Pentagon believed was being used by two Iranian-affiliated Iraqi militias: Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid Al-Shuhada. The military strike consisted of seven 500 pound bombs being dropped near the compound. The attack resulted in devastating damages to the compound, as satellite images of the site show most of the buildings destroyed with the surrounding dirt covered in black, which can be assumed to be brought by the bomb powder. Residents near the area were shaken by the destructing nature of the explosions. According to CNN, an anonymous resident from al-Bukamal said that he was woken by the explosions and was unable to sleep due to what he heard. He said that the explosions “were unlike anything” he had heard before. The amount of casualties resulting from the bombardment is unclear as different sources are claiming different figures. Kata’ib Hezbollah only reported one death, US officials reported a “handful,” and other sources claiming between 17-22 deaths.
(Satellite image of the compound after the attack)
According to The Pentagon, the strike was ordered as a response to a recent handful of rocket and mortar attacks on US and coalition sites in Iraq. Eleven days before the strike, Erbil’s international airport and residential parts around it were subject to a volley of rockets hittings the grounds in the area. This resulted in the death of a contract and the injury of various US personnel. The Green Zone or “Internation Zone” in Baghdad was also subject to constant mortar or rocket attacks on behalf of Kata’ib Hezbollah, who’s since denied involvement in any of the attacks prior to the strike and also released a statement on Friday reiterating such position. Various officials from the Pentagon stated that although the compound itself was not directly related to the previous attacks from Kata’ib Hezbollah, they were very confident that it did house some of its members. The two military groups in question that were target came to prominence during the war on Isis in Syria and Iraq, in which they served to replaced the Iraq army that had retreated.
This was the most notable military action taken by the US near Iraq since Donald Trump’s airstrike back in January 2020, which killed General Qassem Soleimani and caused fears of retaliation or war. Though the target this time is not as prominent as the former Iraqui general, it remains to be seen if there will be any response to Biden’s first military strike.
Categories: World News