US Destroys 3 Militant Bases In Iraq After Multiple Americans Wounded In Christmas Day Attacks

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Dec 26, 2023 - 02:40 PM

The US has retaliated after at least three troops were wounded, with at least one critical, amid the recent stepped up spate of attacks by 'Iran-backed' militias in Iraq and Syria. There have been over one hundred of these since mid-October related to the Gaza War, but the US has struggled to established deterrence. Instead, Americans remain in harm's way amid an ongoing occupation.

"US military forces conducted necessary and proportionate strikes on three facilities used by Kataeb Hezbollah and affiliated groups in Iraq," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had announced in a Christmas Day statement.

Image: US Army National Guard

"These precision strikes are a response to a series of attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias, including an attack by Iran-affiliated Kataeb Hezbollah and affiliated groups on Arbil Air Base earlier today," he added.

It was reportedly done with one-way attack drones, and thus appears to have been limited in scope, compared to a prior couple of operations which involved airstrikes on multiple militant bases and facilities in Iraq and Syria.

The attack which left American troops wounded happened in Iraqi Kurdistan's Erbil, which has long been generally considered a safer and more stable base of operations for US and coalition troops. 

Though such rocket and drone attacks have been happening with increased regularity, there's a likelihood this one was intentionally timed with the holiday of Christmas. According to details in the AP:

Biden, who is spending Christmas at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, was alerted about the attack by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan shortly after it occurred on Monday and ordered the Pentagon and his top national security aides to prepare response options to the attack on an air base used by American troops in Erbil.

Biden then convened his national security team and ordered the retaliatory attack. "The President places no higher priority than the protection of American personnel serving in harm's way," a follow-up US Central Command (CENTCOM) statement said. "The United States will act at a time and in a manner of our choosing should these attacks continue."

Austin again repeated the claim that the US is not seeking to "escalate" - but it remains that the thousands of troops positioned in Iraq and Syria are "unwanted" by the local populace.

The Pentagon is there as an occupying foreign force, and this has especially outraged Syrians given US troops still have control of the country's limited oil and gas resources in the east. This is meant to starve Damascus alongside Washington sanctions.

The US military has said that Monday's operation likely resulted in the deaths of "a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants," while videos have emerged on social media purporting to show the charred remnants of at least one militia base.