US targets Iranian-backed militias in Iraq with airstrikes in response to escalating attacks

BAGHDAD — The United States conducted airstrikes in Iraq on Tuesday, targeting facilities used by Iranian-backed militias. The action was announced by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a statement, citing repeated attacks on US forces as the reason behind the operation.

The strikes specifically targeted three facilities utilized by Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah and other Tehran-affiliated groups in Iraq. According to a statement from US Central Command, the airstrikes aimed at disrupting “KH headquarters, storage, and training locations for rocket, missile, and one-way attack UAV capabilities.”

Defense Secretary Austin emphasized that these strikes were a direct response to a series of escalatory attacks against US and International Coalition personnel in both Iraq and Syria carried out by Iranian-backed militia groups. He praised the planning and execution of the strikes while expressing gratitude for the professionalism of the personnel involved.

“We do not seek to escalate conflict in the region. We are fully prepared to take further measures to protect our people and our facilities. We call on these groups and their Iranian sponsors to immediately cease these attacks,” Austin asserted in the statement.

The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) reported at least one Kataib Hezbollah fighter killed and two injured as a result of the US airstrikes. In response, Jafar al-Hussaini, the military spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah, declared the group’s determination to continue striking the “strongholds of the enemies” in support of their cause.

These airstrikes followed a recent attack on Al-Asad Air Base, where US personnel were injured in a ballistic missile and rocket attack. The initial assessment points to Kataib Hezbollah’s responsibility for the missile attack, with four US troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury as a result.