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The US carried out strikes in opposition to an Iranian-backed militant group at websites throughout Iraq on Thursday, in retaliation for a rocket assault that killed two American troops and a British soldier.
US warplanes undertook “defensive precision strikes in opposition to Kata’ib Hizbollah services throughout Iraq”, the Pentagon stated. “These strikes had been defensive, proportional and in direct response to the menace posed by Iranian-backed Shia militia teams.”
It was the primary US assault in opposition to Iranian proxies since US president Donald Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s strongest navy commander, close to Baghdad airport in January, bringing the nations near struggle.
The US and Iran have been locked in a stand-off since Mr Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear accord Tehran signed with world powers.
Mark Esper, US secretary of defence, had blamed Kata’ib Hizbollah, one of many extra militant Iraqi militias backed by Iran, for a rocket assault on a base internet hosting US-led coalition forces that killed the American and British troopers on Wednesday.
The Pentagon stated the US focused 5 Kata’ib Hizbollah websites throughout Iraq. An individual conversant in the matter instructed the FT that fixed-wing manned plane, not drones, unleashed bombs in any respect 5 websites.
“These are services for weapons storage, logistics hubs, et cetera, which have been recognized as facilitating the rocket assaults that Kata’ib Hizbollah has been conducting. And, clearly, we’re not going to allow them to do this,” a defence official instructed the FT.
The defence official stated the Pentagon had counted greater than 35 rocket assaults in opposition to the US since Could 2019. The official stated commanders on the bottom had been assessing threats and making requests for added assist as they noticed match.
A senior administration official stated Mr Trump had been clear that “we won’t stand for the Iranian regime attacking People in Iraq or elsewhere, whether or not straight or via proxies”.
[The response to the] assault on the coalition forces in Iraq has been swift, decisive and proportionate
“The USA will take extra motion as mandatory in self defence and to discourage assaults from Iranian-backed militia teams,” he stated.
On Friday, Dominic Raab, the UK’s overseas secretary, stated the response to the “cowardly assault on the coalition forces in Iraq has been swift, decisive and proportionate”.
Iran’s overseas ministry stated on Friday that the US couldn’t blame different nations for “the implications of its unlawful presence in Iraq, and the response of the nation’s folks to the assassination and killing of Iraqi commanders and fighters”.
“As an alternative of harmful acts and baseless allegations, Mr Trump ought to basically revise the presence of its forces within the area,” Abbas Mousavi, a overseas ministry spokesman, stated in an announcement.
Iran, which arms and helps militant teams throughout the area, has vowed to drive American forces from the Center East and recognized Iraq, the place it has deep affect and which hosts greater than 5,000 US troops, as its prime goal.
Kata’ib Hizbollah was blamed by Washington for the same rocket barrage that killed an American civilian contractor in December, triggering a sequence of occasions that introduced the US and Iran to the brink of struggle.
The US responded with strikes in opposition to the militia, which triggered protests and assaults in opposition to the American embassy in Baghdad. Mr Trump then ordered a drone strike that killed Soleimani, who commanded the Quds power, the wing of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards liable for regional operations.
Iran retaliated by firing greater than a dozen missiles at Iraqi bases internet hosting US troops, however none had been killed.
This week’s assault on the bottom north of Baghdad, generally known as Camp Taji, consisted of about 18 Katyusha rockets that struck the power housing US-led coalition forces, in line with the US navy. Iraqi safety forces stated they discovered a rocket-rigged truck a number of miles from the bottom.
The defence division stated in an announcement on Thursday that 14 folks had been additionally wounded in Wednesday’s assault, updating an earlier determine.
No group has but claimed duty, however Kata’ib Hizbollah praised the assault on Camp Taji on Wednesday in an announcement on its web site.
“God sends blessings on those that undertook the precise jihadi operation which focused the occupying American forces in Taji Base,” the group stated, including that it was time to power the “aggressors” to go away.
The US has repeatedly blamed Iranian-backed Iraqi militias for launching rockets at bases internet hosting American troops and within the neighborhood of the US embassy in Baghdad’s inexperienced zone. However the killing of American personnel has at all times been thought of a “purple line” in Washington.
The US has been looking for to maneuver Patriot missiles into Iraq as a way to defend its bases, however negotiations faltered after Iraqi MPs voted in assist of a decision to order overseas troops in another country within the wake of Soleimani’s assassination.
US, British and different western troops returned to Iraq after Isis launched a blitz throughout northern and western elements of the nation in 2014, seizing cities together with Mosul, Falluja and Ramadi. Baghdad claimed victory over Isis in December 2017, however the western forces have remained as a part of a world coalition in opposition to Isis and to assist practice Iraqi troops.
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