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US strikes pro-Iran militants in Iraq after attack on base

The US struck what it called an Iran-aligned base in Iraq after three soldiers were wounded at a US base in Erbil. The government in Baghdad condemned the strike, calling it a "clear hostile act."

The US struck Iran-aligned militias in Iraq late on Monday, officials said.

The strikes came after an attack by militants wounded three US military personnel at a base in Erbil in the northern Kurdistan region.

The Iranian-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups had claimed responsibility for that attack.

Baghdad calls strike 'clear hostile act,' reports 1 dead

The Iraqi government condemned the overnight airstrikes on Tuesday morning, calling them "a clear hostile act" and saying they harmed bilateral relations.

"Iraqi military sites were targeted by the American side justifying the act as a response," the Iraqi government said, adding it "resulted in the death of one service member and the injury of 18 others, including civilians."

The government in Baghdad said the "hostile" act "runs counter to the pursuit of enduring mutual interests in establishing security and stability, and it opposes the declared intention of the American side to enhance relations with Iraq." 

US bases in region under mounting fire amid Gaza conflict

Iran-aligned groups oppose Israel's offensive in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. The US is Israel's most critical ally.

The US military has come under attack at least 100 times in Iraq and Syria since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

The US base in Erbil has been targeted many times previously, including with a drone attack on October 26, which penetrated air defenses but did not detonate. In December, the US embassy compound came under mortar fire.

What did US officials say about the strikes?

The US military said that the strikes likely killed "a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants" and destroyed multiple facilities.

"US military forces conducted necessary and proportionate strikes on three facilities used by Kataeb Hezbollah and affiliated groups in Iraq," US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

"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," Michael Erik Kurilla, head of the US Central Command, said in a statement.

National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson had said one of the US soldiers wounded in the latest attack at an Erbil base suffered critical injuries.

"[US President Joe Biden] places no higher priority than the protection of American personnel serving in harm's way," Watson said. "The United States will act at a time and in a manner of our choosing should these attacks continue."

Earlier, on Monday, an Israeli airstrike on a Damascus, Syria, neighborhood killed a high-ranking Iranian general, local media reported. Iran-backed militant groups in the region had said they would take revenge for the killing. 

Second publication by courtesy of DW, Original-Text


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