The operation was intended to respond to attacks by pro-Iranian militias against US forces in northern Iraq.

Last-minute intelligence services reported the presence of a woman and children at the scene

US President Joe Biden canceled a second airstrike that was supposed to target militias in Syria last month, after last-minute intelligence services reported the presence of a woman and children at the scene.

Biden had ordered two strikes on Iranian-backed militias in Syria in response to attacks on US forces in northern Iraq by militias acting on behalf of Tehran earlier this month.

But, nearly 30 minutes before the start of the second strike, Biden receives an urgent warning from intelligence officers, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The fighters were already in the air, en route to the target, when called to turn around. A militia fighter was killed in the attack that took place, and two others were injured.

The strike, the first of the Biden presidency, is seen as a warning to Iran that its provocations in the Middle East would not be ignored by the new administration, but that the latter would not attempt to take it any further. confrontation.

According to WSJ, a confidential message was sent to Tehran after the strike to reinforce this warning.

In February, Iranian-backed militias carried out two attacks against US forces in Iraq. A contractor was killed and seven Americans injured by a missile volley at Erbil airport in northern Iraq in mid-month, and days later a rocket attack on Balad air base also injured a contractor.

A vast diplomatic and military campaign followed, intended to reassure Washington’s allies in the Iraqi government, as well as to ensure that the American message to Tehran is clear.

A Biden administration official revealed to the WSJ: “We were aware that this was the first time we were going to make a decision like this, and that we would certainly be under scrutiny.” “We made sure that the Iranians really understood our intention,” added another official.