President Biden has initiated strikes on three locations in Iraq following an attack on Erbil Air Base, which resulted in injuries to three U.S. service members, one critically.
The strike early Christmas morning has been attributed to a militia group supported by Iran.
Administration’s Official Response
The National Security Council’s spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, stated on Monday that President Biden directed the strikes against facilities utilized by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups.
These groups, which have taken responsibility for the attack on U.S. personnel, are reportedly linked to Iran.
Details of the Attack and Retaliation
The attack, executed with a one-way attack drone, targeted the three locations involved in unmanned aerial drone activities.
President Biden’s decision for a retaliatory strike came after being briefed about the incident that wounded the U.S. service members.
Presidential Directives and National Security Priorities
The statement detailed Biden’s immediate briefing and subsequent directive to the Department of Defense to prepare response options.
“President Biden was immediately briefed on the attack this morning, and he ordered the Department of Defense to prepare response options against those responsible.”
“Those options were then presented to the President during a call this afternoon with Secretary of Defense Austin and members of the President’s national security team,” the statement read.
It further highlighted, “During that call, the President directed strikes against three locations utilized by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups focused specifically on unmanned aerial drone activities.”
Context of Regional Tensions
These attacks occur amidst the ongoing Israeli war in Gaza, which has heightened tensions in the region.
The Biden administration’s support for Israel in this conflict has provoked increased military actions by Iran-backed militia groups as a response to Gaza’s bombardment.
Secretary of Defense’s Statement
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin described the strikes as “necessary and proportionate,” aimed at disrupting the capabilities of Iran-aligned militia groups.
He reinforced Biden’s stance, emphasizing the U.S.’s readiness to take further action if needed.
“Let me be clear – the President and I will not hesitate to take necessary action to defend the United States, our troops, and our interests. There is no higher priority,” Austin stated.
U.S. Commitment to Protection and Preparedness
The U.S. administration, while not seeking to escalate the conflict, asserts its commitment and preparedness to protect American personnel and interests in the region.
Austin’s statement concluded, “While we do not seek to escalate the conflict in the region, we are committed and fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect our people and our facilities.”