As published by Insider by Sarah Al-Arshani
- Iran-backed militias waged multiple attacks on US personnel in Iraq and Syria, Reuters reported.
- In one of the at least six attacks, two US service members were injured.
- “Iran-backed militias’ continued assault on US personnel in Iraq cannot be tolerated,” GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe told Politico.
Republican lawmakers said President Joe Biden is not responding strongly enough after numerous attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iran-backed militias, Politico reported.
In the past week, at least six rocket and drone attacks targeted US troops and diplomats. On Wednesday, for example, two US service members were injured when at least 14 rockets hit an Iraqi airbase hosting US troops, Reuters reported.
Politico reported the exchanges this week are the latest in a long string of back and forth attacks between the US and Iranian-backed militias.
Biden has been working to be less involved in the region to focus on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and Republicans have been critical of the minimal approach.
“Iran-backed militias’ continued assault on US personnel in Iraq cannot be tolerated,” Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement to Politico. “President Biden must put forward a real strategy for deterring and ending these attacks, rather than continuing his bare-minimum, tit-for-tat approach that is failing to deter Iran or its militias and puts American lives at increased risk.”
Former United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, under former President Donald Trump, Mick Mulroy told Politico that “Iran needs to know they can’t hide behind their proxy forces.”
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Biden did order airstrikes against Iran-backed militias on the Iraq-Syria border late last month, as well as in February following attacks on US personnel, but faced backlash from progressives.
“I will be briefed on the imminent harm to our troops who the President has a duty to protect and why the Administration believed this was necessary for self-defense,” Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, told Insider’s John Haltiwanger last month. “What this shows, however, is the need for a broader strategy to bring our troops home so they are not at risk and to de-escalate the tensions with Iran.”
During a press conference, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby addressed the attacks on Thursday and said the US is evaluating a response.
“Obviously deeply concerned. We take the security and safety of our people overseas extremely seriously. And you’ve seen us retaliate appropriately when that safety and security has been threatened,” Kirby said.