(UPI) — The U.S. military used two F-15E Strike Eagles in its airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria, the Pentagon said in a briefing detailing the firepower the attack.
Defense Department press secretary John Kirby said the aircraft dropped seven precision-guided munitions on the targets Thursday. The strikes completely destroyed nine facilities and partially destroyed two others in Abu-Kamal near a control point used by Kait’ib Hezbollah and Kait’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, among other Iran-backed groups.
The attack was in response to a rocket attack against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq last week that killed a contractor and injured several others.
“These targets were chosen carefully, very deliberately,” Kirby said.
“This really was a defensive strike meant to help protect … American forces and coalition partners.”
Saudi broadcaster Al Hadath said the missile strikes killed at least 17 Shiite militia members, but Kirby declined to confirm the number of casualties.
“As we made clear last night and, I think, through President Biden’s order, he made clear that the United States will act to protect American and coalition personnel and our security interests in the region,” he said.
Russia officials on Friday said they condemned the U.S. airstrikes in Syria and called for the country’s sovereignty to be respected.
Russia has supported the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s decade-long civil war involving opposition Syrian Democratic Forces and the Islamic State. A U.S.-led coalition has provided support and training for the opposition forces.