An Iran-backed militia in Iraq has vowed revenge against the U.S. after U.S. military airstrikes killed 25 militants in Iraq and Syria on Sunday.
The militia, Kataeb Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades) slammed the “aggression of evil American ravens” and said, “our battle with America and its mercenaries is now open to all possibilities,” the Associated Press reported.
“We have no alternative today other than confrontation and there is nothing that will prevent us from responding to this crime,” the group added.
Mohammed Mohieh, a spokesman for the group, told The Associated Press that 25 militants died from U.S. airstrikes, and at least 51 were wounded in the attack, some of whom were listed in serious condition.
Mohieh called the attack a “massacre” and a “crime” and insisted that U.S. forces “must leave.”
The Pentagon launched precision strikes on five of the militia’s facilities – three in Iraq and two in Syria – after the militia launched a 30+ rocket attack on the K1 military base near Kirkuk, Iraq, which left one U.S. defense contractor dead, and four other U.S. service members injured, according to a Pentagon statement.
The facilities consisted of weapon storage facilities, command and control locations, and more, which were suspected to be used to “plan and execute attacks on [Operation Inherent Resolve] OIR coalition forces,” the Pentagon said.
The Pentagon said the militia has strong ties with Iran’s Quds Force and has received assistance and support from Iran that it went on to use in attacks against OIR forces.
“The U.S., however, will not be deterred from exercising its right of self-defense,” the Pentagon declared. “Iran and their KH proxy forces must cease their attacks on U.S. and coalition forces, and respect Iraq’s sovereignty, to prevent additional defensive actions by U.S. forces.”
In remarks made at Mar-a-Lago Sunday night, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the militia had been attacking coalition forces for quite some time before the U.S. decided to launch its retaliatory strikes.
“The attacks that took place against an Iraqi facility threatened American forces. They have been going on now for weeks and weeks and weeks. This wasn’t the first set of attacks,” Pompeo said, accompanied by Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
“Today what we did was take a decisive response that makes clear what President Trump has said for months and months and months,” Pompeo said. “We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy.”
Esper said the strikes carried out by F-15 Strike Eagles were a success and all pilots and aircraft returned safely.