President Biden originally ordered two airstrikes in Syria last week, but called one off after learning just 30 minutes before the bombs were scheduled to drop that a woman and children were nearby, according to a report.
The 46th commander-in-chief, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, had directed The Pentagon to scrap the second of two targets after an aide urgently warned him of the presence of a woman and children in the area.
News of the second strike was not previously known prior to The Journal’s reporting.
The goal was to signal to Iran that the new White House team would respond to a Feb. 15 rocket attack in northern Iraq against the U.S.-led coalition but wasn’t seeking to escalate a confrontation with Tehran, senior administration officials said, describing the days leading to the strike in interviews with The Wall Street Journal.
To reinforce the point, a confidential message was sent to Tehran after the U.S. airstrike, administration officials disclosed, without providing details.
We had a pretty coordinated diplomatic and military plan here,” one administration official said. “We made sure the Iranians knew what our intent was.”
Another key objective was to avoid undermining the political position of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, whom Washington sees as a partner in the fight against Islamic State and would likely have faced criticism at home if the attacks had occurred on Iraqi territory, the officials added.