Lloyd Austin

US Strikes Back in Iraq After 3 Troops Injured in Multiple Attacks

(The Epoch Times)—U.S. military forces executed strikes on three facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq on Monday in response to multiple attacks against coalition forces in Iraq and Syria that injured three U.S. troops.

Under the command of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the U.S. military airstrikes targeted facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and its affiliated groups in Iraq at 8:45 p.m. EST on Dec. 25.

Earlier in the day, a one-way drone targeted a U.S. base in Erbil, Iraq, where American forces are stationed, resulting in injuries among U.S. personnel, according to the White House National Security Council (NSC).

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that President Joe Biden ordered the retaliatory strikes in response to a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in both Iraq and Syria, perpetrated by “Iranian-sponsored militias.”

“Today, at President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces conducted necessary and proportionate strikes on three facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups in Iraq,” Mr. Austin said in a statement.

“These precision strikes are a response to a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias, including an attack by Iran-affiliated Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups on Erbil Air Base earlier today, and intended to disrupt and degrade capabilities of the Iran-aligned militia groups directly responsible.”

According to early assessments, the strikes successfully destroyed the targeted facilities and likely inflicted casualties on Kataib Hezbollah, CENTCOM stated.

U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla said in a statement: “These strikes are intended to hold accountable those elements directly responsible for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and Syria and degrade their ability to continue attacks. We will always protect our forces.”

The strikes against U.S. forces at Erbil Air Base earlier in the day by Kataib Hezbollah terrorists with Iranian sponsorship, alongside affiliated groups, resulted in several injuries to U.S. personnel, one of which left a service member in critical condition. Mr. Austin expressed his solidarity, stating, “My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured today.”

The statement did not provide specific details about the locations or methods of the strikes, but it outlined the broader strategic goal of mitigating the threat posed by Iranian-sponsored militias in the region.

The U.S. government asserts that these actions were taken in self-defense and in response to a series of provocations, seeking to send a clear message about the consequences of attacking American personnel.

The White House National Security Council said President Biden was briefed on the attack on Monday morning and ordered the Pentagon to prepare response options against those responsible.

“Those options were then presented to the President during a call this afternoon with Secretary of Defense Austin and members of the President’s national security team,” NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

Ms. Watson said President Biden ordered the strikes during that call against three locations used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups “focused specifically on unmanned aerial drone activities.”

“The President places no higher priority than the protection of American personnel serving in harm’s way,” she added. “The United States will act at a time and in a manner of our choosing should these attacks continue.

Mr. Austin reiterated that he and the president “will not hesitate to take necessary action to defend the United States, our troops, and our interests.”

“There is no higher priority. While we do not seek to escalate conflict in the region, we are committed and fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect our people and our facilities,” he added.