Iraq: US launches new strikes on Iran-backed militant group
The US government said the strikes were a response to attacks against US troops in Iraq and Syria. Recent months have seen an uptick in US strikes in Iraq and Yemen
The United States targeted three facilities linked to Iran-backed militants in Iraq on Tuesday in response to drone and missile attacks on American troops, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.
Tuesday's strikes come days after US forces killed the leader of a pro-Iranian militia group, sparking outrage in Baghdad and triggering renewed calls for the removal of US military personnel from Iraq.
"At President Biden's direction, US military forces conducted necessary and proportionate strikes on three facilities used by the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia group and other Iran-affiliated groups in Iraq," Austin said in a statement.
"These precision strikes are in direct response to a series of escalatory attacks against US and Coalition personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias," he added.
Militant group vows to continue attacks
The US missile struck two bases located in western Iraq, near the Syrian border, US officials said.
According to sources cited by Reuters, two militants were killed, and four other people were wounded.
US Central Command — which is responsible for conducting operations in the Middle East — said the strikes targeted Kataib Hezbollah's "headquarters, storage, and training locations for rocket, missile" and drone capabilities.
Kataib Hezbollah's military spokesperson Jaafar al-Husseini posted on X saying that the group would continue to target "enemy bases" until the end of Israel's military operations in Gaza and called out US support for Israel.
US intensifying engagement in Middle East
The US troops, which have a base in Iraq and Syria, have been targeted more than 150 times since October. The US has launched multiple strikes in retaliation.
The US attack earlier this month killed a pro-Iran commander in Baghdad which aggravated the situation and has led to Iraq calling for US withdrawal from the country.
The US has, however, said it has not been formally notified of any plans to evict the US military.
Along with retaliatory strikes in Iraq and Syria, the US has also spearheaded a response to attacks by Houthi militants in Yemen against commercial shipping passing through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
Published: 24 Jan 2024, 2:36 PM