A drone attack by an Iranian-affiliated terrorist group on a military base in Iraq early Monday morning left three U.S. service members injured, the Pentagon said, and prompted President Biden to order retaliatory strikes.
The attack on the Erbil air base in northern Iraq was carried out by Kataib Hezbollah militants, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. One of the three injured soldiers is in critical condition, Austin revealed.
In response, Mr. Biden – after being briefed and having a call with Austin and his national security team – ordered retaliatory strikes on “three locations used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups focused specifically on the activities of aerial drones,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne said. Watson said in a statement.
According to U.S. Central Command, the retaliatory strikes on the three sites, all in Iraq, were carried out at 8:45 p.m. Eastern Time and “likely killed a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants.” No civilians appear to have been injured or killed, CENTCOM said.
AFP cited Iraqi security sources as saying at least one member of a pro-Iranian faction was killed and 24 others were injured in the retaliatory strikes.
Since the violence, dozens of attacks have been carried out by Iranian-backed militias against US forces in Iraq and Syria.— a group that U.S. officials receives financial and material support from Iran.
And in response,several rounds of strikes on what defense officials consider to be Iran-linked weapons facilities and .
On November 20, several American soldiersin a ballistic missile attack by Iranian-backed militias on Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq, the Pentagon said. Similar to Monday’s retaliation, the United States immediately launched strikes against installations and personnel linked to the militias.
It also comes as Iran-linked Houthi rebels in Yemen have also carried out numerous attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Last week, the White Houseof being “deeply involved” in these attacks in the Red Sea, an allegation .
In aIranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian denied that Iran was responsible for which was shot down by the guided-missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner. The drone appeared to be targeting the Hudner, U.S. officials said at the time.
“We really didn’t want this crisis to expand,” Amir-Abdollahian told CBS News, referring to the. “But the United States has intensified the war in Gaza by providing support to Israel. Yemen makes its own decisions and acts independently.”
Last week, energy giant BP announcedin the Red Sea because of the attacks.
— David Martin, Eleanor Watson, S. Dev, Arden Farhi and Olivia Gazis contributed to this report.
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