Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani on Tuesday called U.S. airstrikes on facilities used by Hezbollah a “clear and hostile act,” after three American soldiers were injured in a terrorist drone strike the day before .
The US airstrikes, ordered by President Biden on Christmas Day since the leaders’ retreat at Camp David, killed “a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants”, according to General Michael Erik Kurilla, head of US Central Command.
The Iraqi prime minister’s press office said in a statement that a member of Baghdad’s security forces was killed in the US strikes, while 18 others were injured, including civilians.
The Iraqi government said that while it condemned the initial attack on US forces as “unacceptable”, the US response was also out of reach.
“This does not serve the long-term common interests of establishing security and stability, and runs counter to the stated desire of the US side to strengthen relations with Iraq,” the statement read. .
“We emphasize that this measure harms bilateral relations between the two countries and will complicate the means of reaching an agreement through a joint dialogue to end the presence of the international coalition and, above all, it represents an unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”
“The Iraqi government emphasizes that it will react decisively to attacks by certain elements against the premises of foreign diplomatic missions or the places where military advisers of friendly countries are stationed,” the Prime Minister’s office also indicated.
Agence France-Presse reported that the funeral of a dead terrorist was attended by dozens of mourners who chanted “No, no to America” and waved militia flags alongside photos of the slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.
A December 2019 missile attack on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk that killed a U.S. contractor led then-President Donald Trump to order a strike against Soleimani at Baghdad airport the following month.
Biden chose to respond after suicide drones from Iran-backed Hezbollah militants attacked a U.S. military base in Erbil, injuring three soldiers, one seriously, according to NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson.
“The President is not placing a higher priority on protecting U.S. personnel exposed to harm. The United States will act when and how it chooses if these attacks continue,” Watson said.
“These strikes are intended to hold accountable those elements directly responsible for attacks against coalition forces in Iraq and Syria and to degrade their ability to continue attacks,” Kurilla added. “We will always protect our forces.”
The identity of the injured American service member has not been released by the Pentagon.
Attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East have intensified since Hamas’s October 7 invasion of Israel, in which 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were massacred and 240 returned to hostages in the Gaza Strip.
Iran-linked militias in Iraq and Syria have carried out more than 100 attacks against US troops since the surprise terrorist attack on the Jewish state, including a series of drone and missile strikes carried out by Houthi militants based in Yemen against commercial ships in the Red Sea. .
Earlier this month, the US Embassy in Baghdad also received rocket fire from an unknown terrorist group.
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