Blinken: US strikes on pro-Iran targets should send a strong message

US Secretary of State says strikes on pro-Iran fighters in Iraq and Syria should deter those fighters from attacking US forces.

Elad Benari ,

Antony Blinken
Antony Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that strikes on pro-Iran fighters in Iraq and Syria should send a "strong" message of deterrence not to keep attacking US forces.

"I would hope that the message sent by the strikes last night will be heard and deter future action," Blinken told reporters on a visit to Rome, according to AFP.

"This action in self-defense to do what's necessary to prevent further attacks sends a very important and strong message," he added.

The comments came after the Pentagon announced that three military facilities used by Iran-backed militia in Syria and in Iraq had been hit overnight Sunday.

It said the targets had been used by "Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against US personnel and facilities in Iraq".

Asked in Rome if the United States was holding Iran responsible for the attacks, Blinken replied, "A number of the groups involved in recent attacks are militia that are backed by Iran."

Rocket attacks have regularly targeted Iraqi bases as well as the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, where the US embassy is located, since the US elimination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last January.

Sunday’s air strikes are not the first time that the Biden administration has retaliated for attacks on US targets in Iraq.

In February, the US bombed a border depot in Syria which the Pentagon said was used by Iran-backed Iraqi armed militia that have been tied to the rocket attacks. The strikes followed a rocket attack targeting an airbase in Iraq's Kurdistan region, which killed a foreign civilian contractor and wounded five others, among them a US soldier.

US President Joe Biden described the February attack as a "warning" to Iran.