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The remains of a destroyed Syrian town after heavy fighting in Idlib province The remains of a destroyed Syrian town after heavy fighting in Idlib province  (AFP or licensors)

Biden administration launches first airstrike in Syria

The Biden administration launches its first airstrike In Syria, allegedly in retaliation to an attack on a US military base in Iraq in mid-February.

Vatican News staff writer

The United States has carried out airstrikes in Syria, targeting facilities used by Iranian-backed militia groups near the Iraqi border. 

This is the first airstrike carried out by the United States since President Joe Biden took office in January. John Kirby, the Pentagon's chief spokesperson announced that the airstrikes were in retaliation to attacks earlier this month in Iraq that killed one civilian and wounded a member of the US service along with coalition troops.

In an attack earlier this month rockets hit the US military base housed at Erbil international airport in the Kurdish-run region of Iraq. 

The site hit by the US strikes was not specifically tied to the rocket attacks but Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he was "confident" in the target.

Syria war monitoring groups said the strikes hit trucks moving weapons to a base for Iranian-backed militias in Boukamal.

In the past, the US has targeted facilities in Syria belonging to Kataeb Hezbollah, which it has blamed for numerous attacks targeting US personnel in Iraq. The Iraqi Kataeb is separate from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors the war in Syria, said 22 fighters from the Popular Mobilisation Forces, an Iraqi umbrella group of mostly Shiite paramilitaries that includes Kataeb Hezbollah, were killed. 

A most recent prayer for Syria

Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has often renewed his appeal to the international community to protect the many people suffering in Syria. The Pope has reiteratedly appealed for a stop to the violence in the country and for the international community and all parties involved to “make use of diplomatic channels, dialogue, and negotiation” to end the conflict and “to safeguard the lives and welfare of civilians.”

26 February 2021, 11:20