U.S. conducts airstrikes in Iraq after morning assault on Erbil Air Base

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By Carina

Late on Christmas night, the U.S. military executed a series of strategic airstrikes on facilities in Iraq utilized by Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi paramilitary group, also known as the Hezbollah Brigades and its affiliated organizations. 

The Department of Defense released statements confirming these operations, emphasizing that the strikes were conducted under the directive of President Joe Biden in response to recent attacks against coalition forces in the region. 

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Secretary of Defense expresses solidarity

Among these attacks was an assault on Erbil Air Base earlier on December 25, resulting in injuries to three U.S. personnel, with one service member critically wounded.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expressed solidarity with the injured Americans, stating, “My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured.” 

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Austin stresses commitment to U.S. defense and preparedness

He underscored the commitment of President Biden and himself to take necessary action to defend the United States, its troops, and its interests. 

Austin emphasized that while the goal is not to escalate the conflict in the region, they are fully prepared to undertake further measures to safeguard American lives and facilities.

Biden-ordered airstrikes target Kataib Hezbollah facilities

The airstrikes, targeting Kataib Hezbollah facilities, were executed based on President Biden’s order following a comprehensive briefing by the Department of Defense. 

General Michael Erik Kurilla, U.S. Central Command Commander, asserted that the strikes aimed to hold accountable those directly responsible for the attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and Syria. 

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Protecting U.S. forces: CENTCOM assessment

He affirmed, “We will always protect our forces,” reinforcing the unwavering commitment to the safety of U.S. military personnel.

CENTCOM’s early assessments indicated the destruction of the targeted facilities, with no evidence of civilian impact. 

Biden’s response: Kataib Hezbollah strikes briefing

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson revealed that President Biden was promptly briefed on the attack and directed the Department of Defense to prepare response options against those responsible. 

The focus of the strikes was on three locations used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups, specifically honing in on unmanned aerial drone activities.

Commitment to American personnel

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On a call with Secretary Austin, President Biden reiterated his prioritization of the protection of American personnel in harm’s way. 

Watson’s statement conveyed the president’s unwavering stance, “The United States will act at a time and in a manner of our choosing should these attacks continue.” 

This underscores the administration’s unwavering commitment to responding decisively to threats against U.S. forces.

Proactive defense: U.S. airstrikes target Kataib Hezbollah

The series of airstrikes against Kataib Hezbollah and its affiliates on Christmas night reflects the U.S. government’s steadfast commitment to defending its interests and personnel. 

The actions taken align with a strategy aimed at holding accountable those responsible for recent attacks on coalition forces, signaling a proactive approach to ensure the safety and security of American troops in the region.

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