New Delhi: The US forces carried out strikes on three sites used by Iran-backed forces in Iraq after an earlier attack left three American personnel injured. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin described the strikes as “necessary” and “proportionate”.
“Today, at @POTUS’ direction, US military forces conducted necessary & proportionate strikes on 3 facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah & affiliated groups in Iraq. These precision strikes are a response to a series of attacks against US personnel in Iraq & Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias, including an attack by Iran-affiliated Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups on Erbil Air Base earlier today,” Austin said in a statement that also shared on X, formerly Twitter.
Today’s attack, the statement said, wounded three US personnel and the condition of one of them is critical. “My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured today,” Austin said.
The US Defense Secretary said President Biden “will not hesitate to take necessary action to defend the US”. “And let me be clear – the President and I will not hesitate to take necessary action to defend the United States, our troops, and our interests. There is no higher priority. While we do not seek to escalate conflict in the region, we are committed and fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect our people and our facilities,” the statement said.
The Kataib Hezbollah is a Shiite militia founded in 2007 with the support of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The US declared Kataib Hezbollah as a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organisation’ in 2009 and sanctioned its Secretary General, Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, for violence against US-led coalition forces in Iraq.
The attacks on US troops in Iraq have spiked amid the war in Gaza between US ally Israel and Hamas. The Gaza conflict was triggered by a shock attack on Israel cities that left over 1,100, mostly civilians, dead. Israel’s brutal retaliation in Gaza has killed over 20,000 people, according to the Hamas-run territory’s administration.
The deaths in Gaza, news agency AFP reported, have sparked widespread anger in the Middle East and provided an impetus for attacks on American troops by forces opposed to their presence in the region.
There are roughly 2,500 American troops in Iraq and some 900 in Syria as part of efforts to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)