In the aftermath of what has been denounced as “foolish military adventurism,” American forces in Iraq are now on high alert.
President Joe Biden, who had criticized former President Donald Trump for ordering attacks in Syria, sent U.S. jets to attack a site on the Syria side of the Iraq-Syria border, on Thursday. The strike was in retaliation for attacks by Iran-backed militia forces on bases in Iraq.
One U.S. contractor was killed in those attacks.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky denounced the strike.
“@POTUS dragging the US into Syria’s civil war is a huge mistake. I strongly condemn this foolish military adventurism,” he tweeted.
@POTUS dragging the US into Syria’s civil war is a huge mistake. I strongly condemn this foolish military adventurism.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) February 26, 2021
On the ground in Iraq, the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve has upped the threat level for U.S. forces in Iraq.
U.S. contractors at Balad Air Base have been put on high alert amid fears that Biden’s limit airstrike that used seven 500-lb. laser-guided bombs will draw further retaliation, Fox News reported, citing as its source “two sources familiar with the move.”
The high alert is likely to last for several days.
“Protection of coalition troops is the #1 priority, so taking force protection levels higher is wise and prudent,” Fox quoted a source as telling it.
The protection measures at Balad Air Base, where contractors employed by Sallyport Global are based, include wearing protective gear outside of hardened buildings, Fox quoted a source as telling it.
Balad Air Base has also limited movement on the base between 6:30 pm and 5 a.m. to only movement essential to missions.
The Pentagon has said the airstrike was a success.
“We’re confident in the target we went after we know what we hit. We’re confident that target was being used by the same Shia militia that conducted the strikes,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said.
Some commentators said the Biden administration used the attack to buttress its negotiating position with Iran.
“The Biden team is saying, ‘Even though we’re highly committed to reestablishing dialogue with the Iranians, we can undertake military strikes at the same time,’” said Michael Knights, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Iran has denied any links to the attack that killed the U.S. contractor.
“While these rumors are strongly rejected, the dubious attempt to attribute it to Iran is also strongly condemned,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to CNN.
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