Biden orders US strike on Iran-backed forces in Iraq. ‘A response to…’: Pentagon | World News - Hindustan Times

Joe Biden orders US strike on Iran-backed forces in Iraq. ‘A response to…’: Pentagon

Dec 26, 2023 09:08 AM IST

Defence secretary Lloyd Austin said US conducted necessary and proportionate strikes on three facilities used by Kataeb Hezbollah and affiliated groups in Iraq.

The US military carried out strikes on three sites used by Iran-backed forces in Iraq on Monday after an attack wounded American personnel earlier in the day, defence secretary Lloyd Austin said. The strikes were carried out after President Joe Biden ordered retaliatory action against Iranian-backed militia groups after three US service members were injured in a drone attack in Northern Iraq.

US President Joe Biden. (AP)
US President Joe Biden. (AP)

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

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"These precision strikes are a response to a series of attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias, including an attack by Iran-affiliated Kataeb Hezbollah and affiliated groups on Arbil Air Base earlier today," he said.

National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said one of the US troops suffered critical injuries in the attack that occurred earlier Monday. The Iranian-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups, under an umbrella of Iranian-backed militants, claimed credit for the attack.

Biden, who is spending Christmas at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, was briefed on the attack on Monday and ordered the Pentagon to prepare response options.

Lloyd Austin and national security team quickly drew up plans and presented him with options in a call and Biden directed strikes against three locations utilized by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups.

The latest attack on US troops follows months of escalating threats and actions against American forces in the region since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel that sparked the devastating war in Gaza.

Attacks in Red Sea

The US has blamed Iran, which has funded and trained Hamas militants, for the rising violence by its network of proxy groups across the region, including attacks by Yemen’s Houthis against commercial and military vessels through a critical shipping choke point in the Red Sea.

The US has sought to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from spiralling into a wider regional conflict that either opens up new fronts of Israeli fighting or that draws the US indirectly.

The administration's measured response — where not every attempt on American troops has been met with a counterattack — has drawn criticism from Republicans.

US troops in Iraq

The US has thousands of troops in Iraq training Iraqi forces and combating remnants of the Islamic State group, and hundreds in Syria, mostly on the counter-IS mission. They have come under dozens of attacks, though as yet none fatal, since the war began on October 7, with the US attributing responsibility to Iran-backed groups.

(With inputs from agencies)

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