The White House said the attack targeted three bases in Iraq used by Kataeb Hezbollah and other Iranian-affiliated groups.
The White House announced that it had launched an attack on Iranian-allied forces in Iraq after a drone attack left three U.S. service members injured, one seriously.
U.S. President Joe Biden ordered attacks on three sites used by Katab Hezbollah and its affiliates in Iraq, National Security Council spokesman Adrian Watson said in a statement Monday night.
Watson said the attack was “specifically focused on drone activity by unmanned aircraft.”
“The president is not prioritizing the protection of American soldiers on dangerous missions,” she said. “If these attacks continue, the United States will act at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the “necessary and appropriate” attacks would “disrupt and degrade the ability of Iran-aligned groups responsible for attacks on U.S. military personnel, including Monday’s drone attack on Erbil Air Base.” The aim is to “encourage”
“Today’s attack left three U.S. service members injured and one service member in critical condition. Our prayers go out to the brave Americans injured today,” Austin said.
“Let me be clear: The President and I will not hesitate to take any action necessary to protect America, our military, and our interests. There is no higher priority.”
U.S. Central Command said its initial assessment was that the attack destroyed target facilities and likely killed several Kataeb Hezbollah fighters, but no civilians were killed.
The airstrike is the latest sign of how Israel’s war on Gaza is spreading across the Middle East, where there is widespread anger over the rising death toll of Palestinians.
At least 20,424 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, when the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a multi-pronged surprise attack on southern Israel, according to the Palestinian Authority.
The U.S. government has blamed Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria for periodic attacks on U.S. and allied forces in the region since the start of the Gaza war. U.S. officials have reported at least 103 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17.
The Iranian government has not commented on the attack, but has previously denied directing its proxies to attack U.S. forces in the region.