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US launches airstrikes against Iran-backed terrorists in Iraq

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The United States launched a series of airstrikes against Iran-backed terrorists in Iraq on Tuesday – the latest in a series to deter militias from attacking US bases and personnel in the region. The bombs hit three sites used by the Kataib Hezbollah militia and other Iran-backed jihadists, according to the Pentagon.

The attack was in retaliation for ballistic missiles fired at the Al-Asad Air Base on Saturday that left four US personnel with traumatic brain injuries, officials said. The Pentagon did not say where the targets were, but footage on social media showed people digging through the rubble of a badly damaged building in the western Iraqi city of Qa’im, near the border with Syria. Another town south of Baghdad, Jurf al-Sakhar, was also targeted, CNN reported.

US Central Command said its forces «conducted unilateral airstrikes» targeting «KH headquarters, warehouses and training sites for rocket, missile and one-way UAV attacks». Jaafar Al-Hussaini, a spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah, said the airstrikes do not change anything, OSINT Defender reported.

He wrote on X that the group would «continue to attack enemy strongholds in support of our people in Gaza until the brutal American-backed killing machine is stopped and the total siege is lifted.» That is the promise of free people.” The strikes came after the US and Britain bombed Houthi targets in Yemen for the second time this month on Monday evening.

Since the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza broke out over Washington’s support for Jerusalem, there have been more than 150 rocket and drone attacks on US bases in Iraq and Syria. There are still around 2,500 US troops in Iraq and 900 in Syria to quell Islamist militants.

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement: “Today, at the direction of President Biden, US military forces conducted necessary and proportionate strikes against three facilities used by the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia and other Iran-affiliated groups in Iraq. These precision strikes are in direct response to a series of escalating attacks against US and coalition personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias.”

“I am grateful for the skill and professionalism with which our personnel planned and executed these strikes, and for the continued efforts of our forces on the ground as they work with regional partners to further disrupt and degrade ISIS. The President and I will not hesitate to take the necessary steps to defend their interests and ours. We do not seek to escalate the conflict in the region. We are fully prepared to take additional measures to protect our people and our facilities. We call on these groups and their Iranian sponsors to immediately stop these attacks,” he concluded.

Iraq is deeply concerned about becoming a battleground between the United States, Israel and Iran. The office of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has announced moves to evict US forces following a US drone strike in Baghdad, which the government condemned.

The Pentagon said the strike killed a militia leader responsible for recent attacks on US personnel. The Pentagon has said it has not been formally informed of any plans to end its presence in the country, and says its troops are deployed in Iraq at the invitation of the government in Baghdad.

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