Biden says Iran ‘can’t act with impunity’ after U.S. airstrike in Syria

U.S. President Joe Biden joins a video conference call with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from the White House on Feb. 23, 2021. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday Iran cannot act with impunity and warned Iran to “be careful” when asked what message he was sending the country with the U.S. air strikes in Syria.

“You can’t act with impunity. Be careful,” Biden told reporters while traveling to survey the damage from a severe winter storm in Texas, according to Reuters.

The United States carried out air strikes authorized by Biden against facilities belonging to Iranian-backed militia in eastern Syria on Thursday, in response to rocket attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq.

Washington and Tehran are seeking maximum leverage in attempts to save Iran’s nuclear deal reached with world powers in 2015 but abandoned in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump, after which regional tensions soared and fears of full-scale conflict grew.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh condemned the U.S. strikes, calling them “illegal aggression” and a violation of human rights and international law.

The air strikes, early on Friday local time, targeted militia sites on the Syrian side of the Iraqi-Syrian frontier, where groups backed by Iran control an important crossing for weapons, personnel and goods.

Western officials and some Iraqi officials accuse Iranian-backed groups of involvement in deadly rocket attacks on U.S. sites and personnel in Iraq over the last month.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the air strikes in Syria were meant to send the message that Biden will act to protect Americans.

She added that future U.S. actions in the region would be deliberative and would aim to deescalate tensions in Syria.

The Iraqi militia official close to Iran said the strikes targeted positions of the Kataib Hezbollah (KH) paramilitary group along the border.

Local sources and a medical source in eastern Syria told Reuters that at least 17 people had been killed, but gave no further details. That toll could not be confirmed.

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