U.S. Airstrikes Target Iranian-Backed Militias in Iraq

  • Condemning the attack, Iraqi military described it as targeted aggression against the nation’s regular armed forces and a violation of sovereignty
  • Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister has already ordered an investigations into the rocket attack on Camp Taji.
  • Iraq has suffered decades of war, sanctions and sectarian conflict, including the US-led invasion of 2003.

At least six people have been killed and 12 others injured in an overnight US air strike in Iraq on Friday. Iraqi military said three soldiers, two policemen and one civilian were killed in the attack, adding that four soldiers, two policemen, one civilian and five militiamen were wounded.

Barham Salih is the 10th and current President of Iraq. He is the former Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region and a former deputy prime minister of the Iraqi federal government.

Condemning the attack, the Iraqi military described it as targeted aggression against the nation’s regular armed forces and a violation of sovereignty. President Barham Salih said repetition of such violations could force Iraq to unravel into a failed state, a situation that would revive the Islamic State militant group.

Iraq’s foreign ministry announced that it would bring a complaint to the United Nations. Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has already ordered an investigations into the rocket attack on Camp Taji, calling it “a very serious security challenge and hostile act.”

The United States, on its part, defended the air strikes, stating that all the five targets were legitimate and stored Iranian-supplied weapons used by the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia to attack the US-led coalition. Washington had launched the air strikes in retaliation for a rocket attack on Wednesday on a base north of Baghdad that killed US and British troops.

Kata’ib Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, is an Iraqi Shia paramilitary group which is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces that is supported by Iran. The group was commanded by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, until he was killed by a US airstrike in Baghdad on 3 January 2020.

“These locations that we struck are clear locations of terrorist bases,” said Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of the US  military’s Central Command. “If Iraqis were there and if Iraqi military forces were there, I would say it’s probably not a good idea to position yourself with with Kata’ib Hezbollah in the wake of a strike that killed Americans and coalition members,” he told Pentagon News.

McKenzie said that he was confident that United States would be able to keep troops in Iraq, adding that while the latest US strikes would deter militia from waging similarly deadly rocket attacks, the risks from Iran and the groups it backs remained high. “I think the tensions have actually not gone down,” he said.

The Pentagon claimed that the strikes targeted “five weapon storage facilities,” allegedly operated by the Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah forces. These are part of the country’s paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a group the US has blamed for the attacks on its forces in Iraq. An Iran-backed Shiite militia group vowed to exact revenge for the US strikes.

Around 5,000 US troops remain in Iraq, most in an advisory capacity, as part of a wider international coalition formed to help Iraq drive back and defeat Islamic State militants. The United States, which believes Iran wants to drive it from the region, has conducted several strikes inside Iraq, killing top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Kata’ib Hezbollah founder Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in January.

Iraq has suffered decades of war, sanctions, and sectarian conflict, including the US-led invasion of 2003. The country is grappling with anti-government unrest in which almost 500 people have been killed October,1.

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Juliet Norah

I am a freelance journalist is passionate about news. I derive pleasure in informing people about the happenings in the world

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