Washington DC/Tehran/Moscow: In response to repeated Kata’ib Hizbollah (KH) attacks on Iraqi bases that host Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition forces, U.S. forces have conducted precision defensive strikes against five KH facilities in Iraq and Syria to meet the objective of degrading KH’s ability to conduct future attacks against OIR coalition forces.
This was stated by Assistant to the US Secretary of Defense Jonathan Hoffman after Sunday’s attack on Iran backed militia controlled area in Iraq and Syria.
The five targets include three KH locations in Iraq and two in Syria. These locations included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on OIR coalition forces.
According to reports, at least 25 people were killed and more than 50 wounded in the airstrikes against the Kataib Hezbollah controlled territory in Iraq and Syria on Sunday.
Recent KH strikes included a 30-plus rocket attack on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk that resulted in the death of a U.S. citizen and injured four U.S. service members and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
US Defense Department has said that KH 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 OIR coalition forces.
The US has further stated that OIR coalition is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS and provide advice and assistance to the ISF. It has been reiterated that the U.S. and its coalition partners fully respect Iraqi sovereignty, and support a strong and independent Iraq. The U.S., however, will not be deterred from exercising its right of self-defense.
What has also been underscored is that it is important to note that KH attacks have also injured multiple members of the ISF. The US Secretary Secretary of Defense Mark T Esper and Iraqui Prime Minister Mahdi have shared with each other their commitment to see these KH attacks on ISF and OIR forces cease once and for all.
The US in a terse message has said that 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.
Iran issues warning
After the airstrikes against the Iran-backed militia group, Iran has warned the US of “consequences”.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi slammed US aggression on Iraqi soil and on Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd al-Shabi) as clear example of terrorism. Hash al-Shabi mobilization forces played major role in fighting ISIS on the ground.
Mousavi urged the US to respect independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq and to stop intervention in the internal affairs of the country.
Meanwhile on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that contrary to US, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia are determined to maintain peace and stability in the region and the relevant road map offered by both states proves this fact. He made this remark in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, reports IRNA, the Islamic Republic News Agency