New Delhi, Jan 24: The United States has announced that its forces carried out targeted strikes on three facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq.
Défence Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the strikes specifically targeted the Kataib Hezbollah militia group and other Iran-affiliated factions. Austin emphasized that these precision strikes were a direct response to recent attacks against U.S. and coalition allies in both Iraq and Syria.
The strikes, however, have raised concerns about violating Iraq’s sovereignty, with a senior Iraqi official condemning them as a “flagrant violation.” Iraq’s National Security Adviser Qassem al-Aaraji expressed the view that such actions do not contribute to calming tensions and urged the U.S. to focus on halting the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
The backdrop to these strikes includes a recent missile attack on an airbase in western Iraq, where U.S. military personnel were injured. The Al Asad airbase, hosting American troops, was targeted by an alleged Iran-backed militia using ballistic missiles and rockets. A group known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for that attack, having emerged in late 2023 and conducted several attacks against U.S. forces.
Defence Secretary Austin commended the professionalism of U.S. military personnel in planning and executing these latest strikes, framing them as part of broader efforts to dismantle and degrade the Islamic State group (ISIS).
He underscored that the U.S. does not seek to escalate conflict but is prepared to take further measures to protect American interests. Austin, along with President Joe Biden, emphasized a willingness to act decisively against any threats and called on the Iran-affiliated groups and their sponsors to cease attacks immediately.