US forces launched attacks on three locations in Iraq on Iran-backed forces ‘in retaliation’ to a drone attack that injured three US servicemen in Northern Iraq on Monday. The strikes have been characterised as “proportionate” and “necessary” by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“Today, US armed forces carried out necessary and proportionate attacks on three sites utilised by Kataib Hezbollah and allied groups in Iraq,” read the statement shared by Austin on X. “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.”
According to the statement, one of the three US servicemen injured in the incident is in serious condition. “My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured today,” said Austin.
According to the US Defence Secretary, President Biden “won’t think twice about taking necessary action to defend the US.” The statement stated, “We are committed to taking all necessary steps to protect our people and our facilities, even though we do not intend to escalate the conflict in the region.”
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 commanded 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, assaults on US forces in Iraq have increased. The war began on October 7 after resistance group Hamas launched an attack on Israeli cities that claimed over 1,100 lives, most of them civilians, set off the Gaza confrontation. The government of the Hamas-run region in Gaza claims that over 20,000 Palestinians have died as a result of Israel’s reaction.
According to news agency AFP, the killings in Gaza have prompted intense indignation throughout the Middle East and given groups hostile to US soldiers’ 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.