The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Biden says US air strike in Syria a warning to Iran


WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden said Friday that a US air strike against an Iranian-backed militia in eastern Syria, the first since he took office, should be seen by Iran as a warning.

Asked what the message was from the air strike, Biden said: “You can’t act with impunity.”

“Be careful,” he added, speaking in Houston during a tour of relief efforts after a huge winter storm in Texas.

Syria and Iran on Friday condemned the attack with Damascus calling it a “bad sign” from the new Biden administra­tion and Tehran saying it would further destabilis­e the region.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said two F-15E ‘Strike Eagles’ dropped seven precisiong­uided munitions on Thursday on facilities in eastern Syria used by the militias believed to be behind a spate of rocket attacks on US troops in Iraq.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was sending “an unambiguou­s message.”

“He’s going to act to protect Americans and when threats are posed, he has the right to take an action at the time and in the manner of his choosing,” Psaki said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the administra­tion wanted to make it “very, very clear – notably to Iran – that they cannot act with impunity against our people, our partners, our interests.

“And I think – and expect – that that message was clearly received,” Blinken said.

Syria condemned the strike as “cowardly American aggression.”

“It is a bad sign regarding the policies of the new US administra­tion which should adhere to internatio­nal (norms),” the foreign ministry said.

The Iranian foreign ministry strongly condemned what it called “illegal attacks” that are a “clear violation of human rights and internatio­nal law.”

The air strikes would lead to “intensifyi­ng military conflicts and further destabilis­e the region,” the foreign ministry spokesman said.

The Syrian Observator­y for Human Rights said at least 22 fighters from Iraq’s statespons­ored Hashed al-Shaabi paramilita­ry force were killed.

Kirby said the Pentagon had received “preliminar­y details” about casualties but declined to release any figures.

He said nine “facilities” used by the militias were “totally destroyed” and two “partially destroyed.”

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