U.S. airstrikes in Syria encourage ‘terrorism’ in the region: Iranian security official

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein meets Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani in Tehran, February 27, 2021.

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.S. airstrikes against Iranian-aligned militias in eastern Syria encourage “terrorism” in the region, said Iran’s top security official Ali Shamkhani on Saturday.

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

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.

The United States said the strikes on positions of Kataib Hezbollah paramilitary group along the Iraq border were in response to rocket attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq.

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Shamkhani met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein in Tehran on Saturday.

Hussein arrived in Tehran on Saturday morning.

“America’s recent action strengthens and expands the activities of the terrorist Daesh [Islamic State] in the region,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Shamkhani said in remarks to visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, according to Reuters.

“The attack on anti-terrorist resistance forces is the beginning of a new round of organized terrorism,” the semi-official Nour News quoted him as saying.

U.S. officials said the strikes were limited in scope to show U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration will act firmly while trying to avoid a big regional escalation.

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.

An Iraqi militia official close to Iran told Reuters that the strikes targeted positions of the Kataib Hezbollah paramilitary group along the border.

The Iraqi foreign minister, on his second visit to Iran in a month, later met with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Hussein is in Iran “to discuss regional developments, including ways to balance relations and avoid tension and escalation” with Iranian officials, according to an Iraqi foreign ministry statement.

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.

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