Following a previous attack in which three American servicemen were injured, US forces launched strikes on three locations in Iraq that were utilised by forces backed by Iran. The strikes were characterised as “proportionate” and “necessary” by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“Today, US armed forces carried out necessary and proportionate strikes on three facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and allied groups in Iraq, under the order of President Trump. The statement from Austin was also shared on X, the former Twitter platform. “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.”
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.
President Biden “will not hesitate to take necessary action to defend the US,” according to the US Defence Secretary. To be clear, the President and I will not think twice about taking the necessary steps to protect our interests, our troops, and the United States. No other priority exists. We are determined to taking all necessary steps to defend our personnel and our facilities, even if we do not intend to intensify the conflict in the area,” the statement read.
Established in 2007, the Kataib Hezbollah is a Shiite militia that has the backing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. In 2009, Kataib Hezbollah’s Secretary General, Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, was sanctioned by the US for using violence against coalition troops led by the US in Iraq, and the group was designated as a “Foreign Terrorist Organisation.”
Amidst the ongoing conflict in Gaza between US partner Israel and Hamas, attacks on US forces in Iraq have increased. A devastating attack on Israeli cities that claimed over 1,100 lives, the majority of them civilians, set off the Gaza confrontation. The administration of the Hamas-run region in Gaza claims that over 20,000 people have died as a result of Israel’s savage reaction.
According to news agency AFP, the killings in Gaza have prompted intense indignation throughout the Middle East and given forces hostile to US troops’ presence in the region a reason to attack them.
another 900 American troops are in Syria and another 2,500 in Iraq as part of the campaign to stop the Islamic State organisation from rising again.