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Drone attack on military base in Iraq injures 3 US soldiers, Pentagon says

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. Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on October 7 — a group that U.S. officials I’ve been saying for a long time receives financial and material support from Iran.

And in response, American forces carried out several rounds of strikes on what defense officials consider to be Iran-linked weapons facilities and Iran-backed fighters.

On November 20, several American soldiers have been hurt in 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.

U.S. soldiers patrol an area on the outskirts of Rumaylan in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled northeastern province of Hasakeh, December 11, 2023.

DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images


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 House accused Iran of being “deeply involved” in these attacks in the Red Sea, an allegation Tehran denied.

In a November 15 interview with CBS NewsIranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian denied that Iran was responsible for a drone fired from Yemen 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 Israel-Hamas War. “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 announced he temporarily suspended all gas and oil shipments in 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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