US strikes Iraq over drone strikes blamed on Iran-backed forces | Conflict messages

The Iraqi government says one Iraqi service member was killed and 18 others wounded in Tuesday's strike.

An Iraqi soldier was killed and at least 18 others wounded in US strikes on Iran-aligned forces in Iraq, the Iraqi government said.

The strikes, which began early Tuesday morning, targeted three sites used by Khattab Hezbollah and affiliated groups, US National Security Council spokesman Adrian Watson said. They were responding to a Katab Hezbollah attack on Erbil Air Force Base the day before, which wounded three American service members, one of them critically, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

Austin said the “necessary and proportionate” strikes are intended to “disrupt and degrade” the capabilities of Iran-aligned groups responsible for attacks against U.S. personnel.

The Iraqi government condemned the US strikes on Tuesday, saying they were “hostile acts” that violated Iraqi sovereignty.

The Iraqi Prime Minister's Ministry said in a statement that these attacks are affecting bilateral relations between the two countries. Iraq's state news agency.

'Let's protect our interests'

US forces have repeatedly targeted bases used by Iran and its proxy forces in Iraq and Syria in response to dozens of attacks on US and allied forces in the region since the Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7.

US officials on Tuesday said the US military would continue to retaliate if US troops were targeted.

“If these attacks are to continue, the United States will act at a time and in a way we choose,” Watson said.

Austin said: “Let me be clear — the president and I will not hesitate to take any action necessary to protect America, our troops and our interests. There is no higher priority.”

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The U.S. Central Command said initial assessments of the U.S. military's latest strikes indicated that they destroyed targeted facilities and may have killed several Katab Hezbollah fighters without killing any civilians.

The strikes are the latest sign of how Israel's war in Gaza is reverberating across the Middle East, where there is widespread outrage over the mounting Palestinian death toll.

At least 20,424 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, when the Palestinian armed group Hamas launched a surprise multi-pronged attack on southern Israel, according to Palestinian officials.

Washington has blamed Iranian proxy forces in Iraq and Syria for regular attacks on US and allied forces in the region since the war in Gaza began. US officials have reported at least 103 attacks against its troops in Iraq and Syria since October 17.

Tehran has not commented on the latest strikes, but has previously denied leading proxy groups to attack US forces in the region.

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