(Bloomberg) -- US forces carried out airstrikes against an Iran-backed militia in Iraq after the group attacked an air base where American troops are stationed.
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The three targets included the headquarters of Kataib Hezbollah as well as a training facility and storage space for missiles and drones, US Central Command said in a statement on Tuesday evening. The facilities are also used by other militant outfits, Central Command added.
“These precision strikes are in direct response to a series of escalatory attacks against US and Coalition personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.
Baghdad strongly condemned the US’s move.
“This unacceptable act undermines years of cooperation, blatantly violates Iraq’s sovereignty, and leads to an irresponsible escalation, at a time when the region is suffering from the danger of expanding conflict,” the Iraqi government said.
The US has about 2,000 troops in Iraq and they — along with colleagues in Syria — have come under frequent fire from Iran-supported militias since the war between Israel and Hamas erupted in October. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani has said he wants to agree a date with the US and its allies for their forces to leave his country.
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The latest operation occurred as the US and UK have been conducting an air campaign against the Houthi rebel group in Yemen, which has disrupted commercial shipping in the Red Sea with a series of missile and drone attacks.
Centcom forces also carried out strikes against two Houthi anti-ship missiles in the Southern Red Sea early Wednesday in “self defense,” according to a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“US forces identified the missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined that they presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and the US Navy ships in the region,” said Centcom, which is responsible for the US military in the Middle East and parts of Asia.
The recent attacks weren’t as extensive as strikes launched by the US on the Iran-backed group earlier this month, when the American military targeted over a dozen Houthi missiles it said presented an immediate threat.
The military actions highlight the danger that the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza will ignite a broader conflict in the Middle East.
“We do not seek to escalate conflict in the region,” Austin said in his statement. “We are fully prepared to take further measures to protect our people and our facilities.”
(Updates with Iraqi criticism of US actions.)
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