The White House says the strikes targeted three sites used by Kataib Hezbollah and other Iranian-affiliated groups in Iraq.
The White House announced that the United States launched strikes on Iranian-allied forces in Iraq after a drone attack that injured three American soldiers, one of them in serious condition.
US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrian Watson said in a statement on Monday evening that US President Joe Biden ordered strikes on three sites used by Kataib Hezbollah and its affiliated groups in Iraq.
Watson said the strikes “focused specifically on drone activities.”
“The President places no higher priority than protecting American personnel who serve in harm’s way,” she said. He added, “The United States will act at the time and in the manner we choose if these attacks continue.”
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the “necessary and proportionate” strikes were intended to “disable and degrade” the capabilities of Iran-allied groups responsible for attacks against US personnel, including a drone attack on the Erbil air base on Monday.
“Today’s attack injured three American personnel, leaving one service member in critical condition. My prayers are with the brave Americans injured today,” Austin said.
And let me be clear – the President and I will not hesitate to take action to defend the United States, our forces, and our interests. There is no higher priority.”
US Central Command said initial assessments indicate that the strikes destroyed the targeted facilities and likely killed many Kataib Hezbollah fighters, but no civilians were killed.
These strikes are the latest indication of the extent to which the Israeli war in Gaza has repercussions across the Middle East, where there is widespread anger over the high Palestinian death toll.
At least 20,424 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, when the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise, multi-pronged attack on southern Israel, according to Palestinian authorities.
Washington accused Iranian-affiliated forces in Iraq and Syria of launching regular attacks on American forces and allied forces in the region since the start of the war in Gaza. US officials announced at least 103 attacks against their forces in Iraq and Syria since October 17.
Tehran did not comment on the recent strikes, but it previously denied directing proxy groups to attack US forces in the region.
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