Syria air strike targets were Iran-backed militia

Syria said the U.S. air strikes in the east of the country were a cowardly act and urged President Joe Biden not to follow "the law of the jungle."

Kirby said the strikes destroyed multiple facilities at a border control point used by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada.

"I think through President Biden's order he made clear the United States will act to protect American and coalition personnel and our security interests in the region," said Kirby.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision to carry out the strikes was meant to signal that, while the United States wanted to punish the militias, it did not want the situation to spiral into a bigger conflict.

Video Transcript

JOHN KIRBY: Two F-15E Strike Eagles dropped seven precision-guided munitions totally destroying nine facilities and partially destroying two facilities. Making them functionally destroyed. The structures were located at the Abu Kamal terrorist entry control point located near the Syria, Iraq border on the Syrian side. This location is known to facilitate Iranian aligned militia group activity.

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.

- At what point did it become clear who was behind the rocket attack in Erbil? And how long did it take you to decide on the target and carry out the operation? And also, with the other rocket attacks at the Balad Air Base in the green zone afterward, were those also linked to those same groups?

JOHN KIRBY: Well, when we referred to the justification for the strikes, we talked about recent attacks. So I'd leave it at that. Certainly you can take away from that that this structure was hit, because we know it was utilized by groups that were responsible for these recent attacks. Not just Erbil.

I don't know. I can't give you a date certain, Dan, when all of a sudden, the light bulb went on, and we knew these were the groups. And this is what we were going to do. But I can tell you that the president himself authorized this yesterday morning.