US bombs facilities in Syria used by Iran-backed militia groups in response to rocket attacks in Iraq; US ties with Saudis at stake as US releases findings on Khashoggi killing


From The Associated Press


Media  – The Biden administration has carried out its first military action with airstrikes in Syria, targeting facilities near the Iraqi border used by Iranian-backed militia groups.


The Pentagon said the strikes were retaliation for a rocket attack in Iraq earlier this month that killed one civilian contractor and wounded a U.S. service member and other coalition troops.


Every American president from Ronald Reagan onward has ordered bombardment of countries in the Middle East; Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen have taken the brunt.


The airstrike in Syria targeted facilities belonging to a powerful Iranian-backed Iraqi armed group, killing one of their militiamen and wounding a number of others, an Iraqi militia official told the AP today.


The official said that the strikes against the Kataeb Hezbollah militia, or Hezbollah Brigades, hit an area along the border between the Syrian site of Boukamal facing Qaim on the Iraqi side.  Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad and Lolita C. Baldor and Robert Burns in Washington have the latest developments.


The new administration, in its first weeks, has emphasized its intent to put more focus on the challenges posed by China, even as volatility and threats to U.S. military presence and interests persist in the Arab World.


But Biden’s decision to attack in Syria does not appear to signal an intention to widen U.S. military involvement in the region but rather to demonstrate a will to defend U.S. troops in Iraq.


U.S.-Saudi Relations: President Biden has spoken to Saudi King Salman for the first time since taking office more than a month ago. The conversation between the two strategic partners was overshadowed by the expected release of U.S. intelligence findings on whether the king’s son approved the killing of a U.S.-based Saudi journalist, Ellen Knickmeyer reports.


Jamal Khashoggi was a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s authoritarian consolidation of power. Saudi security and intelligence agents killed him inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The Saudi prince denies ordering the killing. The Biden administration has promised “accountability” in the gruesome slaying.

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