New Strikes in Iraq Against Iranian-Backed Militants
November 21, 2023
United States Responds to Recent Attacks
The United States has carried out two series of strikes in Iraq against Iranian-backed militants, according to U.S. officials. This marks the first publicly reported U.S. response in Iraq to the numerous recent attacks against troops in the region.
The delicate political situation in Iraq had previously deterred the United States from retaliating. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani has limited control over the Iranian-backed militias, whose support he needed to secure his position in power. These militias now form a powerful bloc in his governing coalition.
Direct Response to Attacks
The U.S. military statement confirmed that the strikes on Tuesday evening targeted two facilities in Iraq. They were conducted in direct response to the attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces by Iran and Iran-backed groups.
Previous Attack and Self-Defense
About 24 hours earlier, U.S. forces at an air base west of Baghdad were attacked. In self-defense, a U.S. military AC-130 aircraft responded, resulting in the deaths of several Iranian-backed militants. The attack on Ain al-Asad air base with a close-range ballistic missile caused eight injuries and minor damage to infrastructure.
Previous Strikes and Injuries
The United States had previously responded to the 66 attacks against its forces in Iraq and neighboring Syria with three separate sets of strikes in Syria. As a result of these attacks, at least 62 U.S. personnel have suffered minor injuries or traumatic brain injuries.
Motive behind Attacks
The attacks against U.S. targets have been linked by Iraqi militia groups to U.S. support for Israel during the Gaza conflict. These attacks have ended a year-long unilateral truce that Iraqi factions, forming in response to past U.S. invasions and to fight against the Islamic State, had previously declared with Washington.
First Reported Casualty
Social media accounts associated with Iran-aligned Iraqi militias have reported the death of a member in battle against U.S. forces on Tuesday. This casualty marks the first reported death in Iraq related to the Gaza conflict.
Mission and Troop Presence
The United States currently has 900 troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq. These troops are on a mission to advise and assist local forces in preventing a resurgence of the Islamic State.
Read More of this Story at www.reuters.com – 2023-11-22 01:03:00
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