Before dawn on Feb. 26, the Biden administration launched an airstrike that targeted a pro-Iranian militia, Kataib Hezbollah, operating in Syria. U.S. attacks against the militia in eastern Syria have been ongoing since 2019. This attack is the Biden administration’s first use of force in what mainstream media outlets are calling a “limited response.” Seven 500-pound bombs were dropped on buildings at a crossing on the Syrian-Iraqi border. The strike resulted in the death of at least one person, several others who were wounded, and the destruction of militia infrastructure.

The justification for the airstrike follows a recent upsurge in attacks on U.S. occupying forces and personnel in Iraq. On Feb. 15, a rocket attack on Ebril Airport, a U.S. base in Iraq, killed an independent military “contractor” and wounded six, including a U.S. soldier. U.S. and Iraqi intelligence blamed the Kataib Hezbollah militia for the Feb. 15 attack, though it denies any connection to the incident, and a lesser-known group, the Awliya al Dam brigades, has claimed responsibility.

This airstrike is a reflection of continued U.S. imperialist policy in the region. It comes a little over one year after the Jan. 3, 2020, drone assassination of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani and the head of Kataib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, by President Trump.

The choice to target Syria has the effect of adding pressure to an unstable Assad regime that has been propped up by Russian imperialism and by military aid by Iran and its client militias, such as Hezbollah. At the same time, it puts pressure on the Iranian regime in regard to renewed negotiations over its nuclear program, and reaffirms the U.S. occupation of Iraq while not placing the blame on an Iraqi government that already leans toward Iran.

In the past weeks, a flurry of articles has come out praising the Biden administration’s use of diplomacy and how it was “different” from Trump’s heavy-handed use of the military instead of diplomacy. Newsweek writes, “President Joe Biden vowed to revitalize American alliances and put diplomacy back at the heart of U.S. foreign policy, repairing the damage he and his allies said was done to American global leadership under former President Donald Trump.”

The reality is uninterrupted brutality by the U.S. in the effort to jockey for position in the region against other imperialist powers. Airstrikes for the U.S. are a means of diplomacy by force, and the Biden administration is trying to balance out the softer image that it cultivated throughout the 2020 elections. Meanwhile, U.S. bombs are still falling across the globe, immigrants are being detained and their children are put in cages, and there has been no real relief from the pandemic and economic crisis.

Socialist Resurgence says: “No U.S. attacks on Syria! No war with Iran! U.S. out of the Middle East! End the wars and occupations! Trillions for pandemic relief, health care, housing, and education—and not for war!”

Illustration by General Strike Graphics