US launches retaliatory strikes against Iranian-backed groups in Iraq

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – The U.S. Defense Department conducted three airstrikes on Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah bases in Iraq, following direct orders from U.S. President Joe Biden.

In a statement, the U.S. Central Command confirmed that the attack successfully targeted Hezbollah bases, resulting in the believed elimination of several militia fighters. The statement assured that there were no indications of civilian casualties resulting from the strikes.

The U.S. retaliation was prompted by a drone strike on the U.S.-led coalition base at Erbil International Airport on Monday, which left three soldiers injured, one in critical condition. Three separate statements from the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Central Command (CENCTOM) explained that the strikes aimed to respond to this attack.

As per reports from Iraqi media, the militant’s bases in Baghdad, Babil, and Wasit provinces were subjected to strikes. A source from the Iraqi Interior Ministry has confirmed the incident, revealing that one Hezbollah fighter lost their life, and 20 others sustained injuries.

Yesterday’s assault on Erbil base led to three U.S. soldiers being wounded, with one in critical condition. The White House reported that President Biden immediately directed the Department of Defense to prepare various response options upon being briefed of the attack.

Videos that have gone viral on Iraqi social media depict the aftermath of the US airstrikes.

The statement from the Defense Department clarified, “These precision strikes are a response to a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias, including an attack by Iran-affiliated Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups on Erbil Air Base earlier today, and intended to disrupt and degrade capabilities of the Iran-aligned militia groups directly responsible.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin received the order from President Biden before the airstrikes and expressed concern, stating, My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured today.”

The U.S. affirmed its readiness to take further measures to safeguard its personnel and facilities in the affected regions.

General Michael Erik Kurilla, U.S. Central Command Commander, highlighted that the strikes aimed to hold those directly responsible for the attacks in Iraq and Syria accountable, with the intention of diminishing their capacity to carry out further assaults.These strikes occurred in the context of more than 100 attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria over the past two months, particularly escalating since the commencement of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

In a related development, the Israeli army conducted an airstrike near the Syrian capital Damascus, resulting in the death of senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards military adviser, Sayyed Razi Mousavi. Following the incident, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC)issued a stark warning, stating that the “Zionist regime” would bear consequences for the action.

The Iraqi government has strongly denounced the recent US airstrike on Hezbollah bases, asserting that the assault resulted in the death of one security official and left 18 others injured.

In an official statement, the Iraqi government expressed its condemnation of the air strike, characterizing it as a “blatant and hostile act” that contradicts the pursuit of long-term mutual interests. The government firmly declared that any attack, regardless of its purported justification, is deemed unacceptable.

Furthermore, the statement highlighted that such an assault contradicts the United States’ publicly stated commitment to enhancing relations with Iraq.

Last updated at 11:30 a.m.

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