US strike on several locations inside Syria draws global criticism 

US president Joe Biden authorized the airstrikes as a response to the recent attacks on US military bases in Iraq. The move is being criticized by anti-war and progressive sections as a sign of continuation of Trump-era policies in the region  

February 26, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
US attacks in Syria
US president Joe Biden.

The US carried out air raids on several targets inside eastern Syria late in the night on Thursday, February 25. The Pentagon claimed that the “defensive” and “retaliatory” attacks were carried out against the Iraqi militia groups Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada which operate under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby later said in a statement that the airstrikes were authorized by president Joe Biden in response to the “recent attacks against American and coalition” forces in Iraq. Last month, a rocket attack on a military base in Erbil in northern Iraq had killed one civilian contractor and injured some of the US forces stationed there. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by a group called Awliya al-Dam (Guardians of the Blood).

According to the Pentagon, at least seven targets were bombed near the Syria-Iraq border in Al-Bukamal on Thursday. The extent of casualties and loss of infrastructure has not been confirmed yet.  

The resistance and attacks against foreign forces in Iraq have intensified since the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone attack carried out by the US in the beginning of last year. Following the assassination, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution asking foreign forces to leave the country. The US has since withdrawn some of its forces from Iraq but a significant number still remain in the country, which are constantly targeted by the militias.

The US has claimed that attacks by Iraqi militias on its forces are being carried out with Iran’s backing. Such claims have been repeatedly rejected by Iran. According to Syed Mohammad Marandi, a professor of English literature at Tehran University, pro-US media has attempted to legitimize illegal killings carried out by the US by branding the Iraqi militias as “Iran backed”.

Several US troops are stationed in eastern Syria, which is mostly under the control of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces since the war against ISIS. The US and its ally Israel have carried out similar attacks in the past. Thursday’s airstrike was the first official attack under the Biden administration. Critics have questioned his administration’s attempt to call the airstrike defensive” and “retaliatory”. 

The airstrikes are also being criticized as a continuation of the policies of the Donald Trump administration in the Middle East.