A United States warplane on Tuesday (Nov 21) attacked an air base west of Baghdad and killed several Iran-backed militiamen, the Pentagon said.
This came after a short-range ballistic projectile was fired at American and allied personnel in Iraq.
“We can confirm an attack last night by Iran-backed militias using a close-range ballistic missile against US and coalition forces at Al-Asad Airbase, which resulted in eight injuries and some minor damage to infrastructure,” Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said in a statement.
“Immediately following the attack, a US military AC-130 aircraft in the area conducted a self-defence strike against an Iranian-backed militia vehicle and a number of Iranian-backed militia personnel involved in this attack. This self-defence strike resulted in several enemy KIA (killed in action),” Ryder said.
The Ain al-Asad Air Base, which is located in the desert of Iraq’s Western Anbar province, hosts forces of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq.
This is the first time the United States announced a strike on Iranian proxy forces in Iraq after targeting Tehran-linked sites in Syria on three occasions in recent weeks.
The move by the US comes after a spate of attacks were reported in Iraq aimed at American troops which claimed the lives of several army personnel.
The spike in attacks on American troops is linked to the upsurge in violence between Israel and Hamas, which broke out after the Palestinian militant group’s assault against Israel on Oct 7.
Tel Aviv, in retaliation, launched a ground and air offensive against the Hamas group in Gaza, which as per the besieged Palestinian enclave’s health ministry has claimed the lives of more than 14,000 people.
US forces attacked approximately 66 times
Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh during a press briefing said that the US forces “have been attacked approximately 66 times since October 17 — 32 separate times in Iraq and 34 separate times in Syria.”
The attacks have wounded nearly 62, said Singh further doesn’t yet include the eight cited by Ryder, since that most recent projectile strike is still being evaluated.
Blinken condemns attacks on American troops
Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his surprise visit to Iraq, condemned the attacks on American troops.
“I made very clear that attacks or threats coming from militias that are aligned with Iran are totally unacceptable. And we will take every necessary step to protect our people,” Blinken said.
During his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani, he asserted that his country would take all the necessary measures to safeguard his people.
“We will take every necessary step to protect our people,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)