U.S. Air Strikes Target Iranian-Backed Militia In Iraq And Syria

U.S. air strikes targeting Iranian-backed militia in Iraq and Syria inflicted major damages to their facilities. A statement by the Department of Defense said U.S. forces conducted precision defensive strikes against five facilities of Kataib Hizbollah (KH) in Iraq and Syria, which according to the Pentagon, will degrade the Iran-backed Iraqi militia's ability to conduct future attacks against the U.S.-led coalition forces. Weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on Operation Inherent Resolve coalition forces were destroyed in the air strikes, the Pentagon said. The air strikes were in retaliation for last week's rocket attacks by KH on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk that killed a U.S. civilian contractor and injured four U.S. troops and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces. While the Pentagon did not mention if the aerial attacks resulted in casualties, KH said 25 fighters were killed and 51 others injured. KH leader Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi warned that they will hit back on the American forces in Iraq, saying, "the response will be very tough." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper briefed President Donald Trump about the air strikes. "We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy," Pompeo told reporters after the briefing. A statement issued by Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Jonathan Hoffman, said, Iran and their KH proxy forces must stop their attacks on U.S. and coalition forces, and respect Iraq's sovereignty, to prevent additional defensive actions by U.S. forces. Kataib Hezbollah, which means Brigades of the Party of God, is a powerful Iraqi Shia militia that Washington designated as a terrorist outfit. Its leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was blacklisted as a global terrorist. KH has strong ties with Iran's Quds Force and has repeatedly received lethal aid and other support from Iran that it has used to attack the coalition forces.