U.S. forces have launched strikes on five Iranian-backed militia positions in Iraq and Syria Sunday following a series of rocket attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq, including one that killed an American contractor and wounded four U.S. troops.
The “defensive strikes” on facilities of the Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) facilities were intended to “degrade KH’s ability to conduct future attacks against” the U.S. and coalition forces, Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said in a statement.
He said the three KH locations in Iraq and two in Syria that were hit included weapons depots and command and control positions that the militia group had used to plan and execute a series of recent attacks on friendly bases in Iraq.
Hoffman did not describe how the attacks were conducted or what munitions were used, but the U.S. maintains a full array of fixed-wing and rotary attack aircraft in the region, as well as precision missile systems. Citing U.S. officials, CNN reported that F-15 Strike Eagle fighters conducted the strikes.
In the most recent attack on U.S. positions, KH paramilitaries fired more than 30 rockets Friday at a U.S. base near Kirkuk in north-central Iraq, resulting in the death of an American contractor and injuries to four U.S. military personnel and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces, Hoffman said.
Similar attacks led the U.S. to evacuate nonessential personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this year and close the U.S. consulate in Basra.
In his statement, Hoffman noted that the U.S. respects Iraqi sovereignty and the independence of the Baghdad government in exercising control of operations within its territory, but added that the U.S. “will not be deterred from exercising its right of self-defense.”
Hoffman charged that “KH has a strong linkage with Iran’s Quds Force,” a unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps formed to carry out unconventional warfare, and “has repeatedly received lethal aid and other support from Iran that it has used to attack OIR coalition forces.”
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