U.S. forces in Iraq launched airstrikes Thursday against Iranian-backed Shia militia members believed to be responsible for Wednesday’s rocket attack on Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, that killed two Americans and one British service member while wounding fifteen more.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Officials: US airstrikes underway against Iran-backed militia group that hit Iraq base.
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) March 12, 2020
BREAKING: multiple US sources confirm that Iran is directly responsible for the 107mm Katyusha Rocket attack on Camp Taji, Iraq that killed two American and one British service members while wounding 15. This is considered a major escalation.
— Alex Plitsas ???????? (@alexplitsas) March 12, 2020
Officials said that the strikes targeted Kataib Hezbollah weapons facilities inside Iraq and were jointly conducted with British forces. (RELATED: Here Are The Sanctions The US Has Imposed On Iran Following Its Missile Attack)
The Pentagon released a statement confirming that the strikes were conducted in response to the rocket attacks on Wednesday:
“Earlier this evening, the United States conducted defensive precision strikes against Kata’ib Hizbollah (KH) facilities across Iraq,” the statement said. “These strikes targeted five weapon storage facilities to significantly degrade their ability to conduct future attacks against Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition forces. These weapons storage facilities include facilities that housed weapons used to target U.S. and coalition troops.”
“These strikes were defensive, proportional, and in direct response to the threat posed by Iranian-backed Shia militia groups (SMG) who continue to attack bases hosting OIR coalition forces,” the Pentagon added.
The strikes mark a rapid escalation in tensions with Tehran and its proxy groups in Iraq. They come just two months after Iran carried out a ballistic missile attack against American troops at the Al-Asad air base in Iraq in response to the U.S. killing of Iranian terrorist leader Qassem Soleimani.