2nd air strike called off against Iranian-backed militia

President Joe Biden called off a second U.S. airstrike against an Iranian-backed militia just one hour before the planned attack because a woman and child were spotted on site.
2:48 | 03/05/21

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Transcript for 2nd air strike called off against Iranian-backed militia
Now, to the U.S. And Iran tonight. ABC news now confirming that president Biden called off a second air strike against an iranian-backed miitia in Syria just an hour before, after learning women and children had been in the area. And there's also news tonight about the rocket attack this week on U.S. Forces in Iraq. And all of this as the pope visits Iraq tomorrow and what's now being done to protect him. ABC's senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell from Iraq again tonight. Reporter: Tonight, ABC news confirming president Biden called off a second airstrike against an iranian-backed militia last week. Sources say it happened just an hour before f15es were ready to bomb separate targets. Aerial reconnaissance spotted women and children at the second site and so couldn't rule out civilian casualties. When that information got to the president, he called off the mission. The other airstrike in Syria did kill at least one iranian-backed militia fighter. Shortly after, the administration sent a confidential message to Tehran, part of a combined diplomatic and military strategy to communicate the message America wasn't trying to escalate the situation. All this as we're learning more about those ten rockets fired from a truck at a base housing U.S. Soldiers in western Iraq yesterday. At least three of the rockets were shot out of the sky using a defense system which fires thousands of rounds at an incoming target. And in the middle of these rising tensions, Iraq's awaiting the first visit of pope Francis tomorrow. It's an unprecedented trip to a country ravaged by years of fighting and the plague of ISIS. It's hard to overestimate the level of bomb damage to Al tahira church here in mosul. ISIS used this as one of their bases. They said, we're going to go to Rome, we will occupy Rome. Well, imagine the irony that, instead, Rome, pope Francis, is coming to Al tahira church mosul. The pope will be protected by heavily-armed security forces during his three-day visit even as he hopes to deliver a message of peace and healing. Ian Pannell back with us tonight. And I know the Vatican obviously aware of the risks and what's been going on in the region, but moving forward with this trip. Reporter: Yeah, that's right. There are enormous concerns about this trip. The pope is going to land in the middle of another significant wave of virus infections in the country. And having so many people gathered together is clearly a throw in the threat from ISIS and growing u.s./iranian tensions and vaticaned aizers are worried for the pope's but the pope is adamant this is going to go ahead. All right, Ian Pannell tonight. Ian there for the pope's trip and we'll see you later this week. Back he at home tonight

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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