25 Killed in U.S. Strikes on Pro-Iran Militia in Iraq in Retaliation for Missile Attack on Base in Kirkuk

WASHINGTON – On 29 December, the Pentagon announced that U.S. forces launched air strikes against five facilities belonging to the pro-Iranian Iraqi militia “Kataib Hezbollah” in Iraq and Syria.

A statement by Assistant Defense Secretary, Jonathan Hoffman, explained that the strikes came as a response to the repeated attacks of Kataib Hezbollah on Iraqi bases housing the U.S.-led international coalition forces against ISIS. It also expected to degrade Kataib Hezbollah’s ability to conduct future attacks.

The statement pointed out that the five targets include three locations of the “Iraqi Hezbollah” in Iraq and two in Syria – including weapons storage facilities and command and control locations used in planning and conducting attacks against the international coalition forces.

Moreover, the Pentagon statement accused Kataib Hezbollah of being behind the attack on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk on 28 December which killed an American civilian contractor and wounded four American soldiers and two members of the Iraqi security forces.

“[Kataib Hezbollah] has a strong linkage with Iran’s Quds Force and has repeatedly received lethal aid and other support from Iran that it has used to attack [international] coalition forces,” the statement declared. The Quds Force is a unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards directed to carry out unconventional warfare and intelligence activities.

The Popular Mobilization Committee – an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization composed of some 40 militias – announced the killing of Abu Ali Al-Khazali, the commander of the first regiment of the Forty-Five Brigade, in the U.S. strikes. The number of those killed in U.S. strikes on the bases increased to 25, including 3 Iranian officers. In addition, 50 other members of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization were injured as a result of U.S. bombing.