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Saturday, April 13, 2024

US hits back in Iraq as its soldiers get wounded

This exchange highlights the broader impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Middle East, making U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria targets for Iran-aligned groups.

US hits back in Iraq as its soldiers get wounded

On Monday, the U.S. military conducted retaliatory airstrikes in Iraq following a one-way drone attack by Iran-aligned militants. The drone attack earlier in the day left one U.S. service member critically injured and two others wounded. This exchange highlights the broader impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Middle East, making U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria targets for Iran-aligned groups. These groups oppose Israel’s actions in Gaza and partially blame the U.S.

At President Joe Biden’s direction, the airstrikes in Iraq occurred at 1:45 GMT, likely resulting in the elimination of “a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants” and the destruction of their facilities, according to the U.S. military. General Michael Erik Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, stated that the strikes aim to hold accountable those responsible for attacks on coalition forces and degrade their ability to continue such actions.

The one-way drone attack targeted a U.S. base in Erbil, Iraq, housing U.S. forces, causing the latest casualties. The Pentagon provided limited information on the wounded service member and the attack’s details, including how the drone breached the base’s air defenses.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed concern for the injured Americans, while the White House National Security Council mentioned that President Biden was briefed on the situation and ordered the Pentagon to prepare response options. The NSC emphasized the priority of protecting U.S. personnel and warned of potential future actions if attacks persist.

Increase in Attacks 

The U.S. military has faced over 100 attacks in Iraq and Syria since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict in October, primarily involving rockets and one-way attack drones. The recent incident adds to the escalating unrest, occurring shortly after Secretary Austin’s Middle East trip focused on countering Iran-aligned groups’ efforts related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

more to read: At least 60 lives lost in Gaza refugee camp by an Israeli airstrike

Additionally, the Pentagon announced the formation of a U.S.-led maritime coalition called Operation Prosperity Guardian, with more than 20 countries agreeing to participate. This coalition aims to safeguard Red Sea commerce following drone and missile attacks on commercial vessels by Houthi militants in Yemen.