The United States launched multiple airstrikes against Iran-backed terrorist groups in Iraq after a terrorist organization’s drone strike against U.S. forces at Erbil Air Base left three U.S. service members injured on Christmas.
According to U.S. Central Command, the United States launched airstrikes at 8:45 p.m. on Christmas against multiple facilities in Iraq that are used by Katabi Hezbollah terrorists and other terrorist groups in response to “multiple attacks” against U.S. and coalition forces in both Syria and Iraq.
Central Command noted that prior to the Christmas airstrikes carried out by U.S. forces, Kataib Hezbollah and other terrorist groups attacked coalition forces at Erbil Air Base, causing multiple injuries to U.S. personnel.
“Today, at President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces conducted necessary and proportionate strikes on three facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups in Iraq,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement released by the Pentagon on Monday.
Austin added, “These precision strikes are a response to a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias, including an attack by Iran-affiliated Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups on Erbil Air Base earlier today, and intended to disrupt and degrade capabilities of the Iran-aligned militia groups directly responsible.”
In his statement, Austin noted that Monday’s attack by Kataib Hezbollah and other Iran-backed groups resulted in injuries to three U.S. service members, including one service member who was listed in critical condition.
“My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured today,” Austin stated. “And let me be clear – the President and I will not hesitate to take necessary action to defend the United States, our troops, and our interests. There is no higher priority.”
Austin explained that while the United States does not want to “escalate conflict” in the Middle East region, the military is “fully prepared” to take additional action in order to protect U.S. service members and facilities.
According to a recent report by Military Times, the number of attacks against U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq has continued to climb since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in October, rising to over 100 attacks since Oct. 17.
Addressing Monday’s retaliatory airstrikes, General Michael Erik Kurilla, the U.S. Central Command Commander, said, “These strikes are intended to hold accountable those elements directly responsible for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and Syria and degrade their ability to continue attacks. We will always protect our forces.”
Central Command announced that “early assessments” of the retaliatory airstrikes showed that the strikes resulted in the destruction of the terrorist facilities and “likely killed” multiple Kataib Hezbollah terrorists. On the other hand, Central Command said that there were no indications that any civilians were impacted by the airstrikes.