The United States military conducted airstrikes against three Kataib Hezbollah facilities in Iraq as a direct response to attacks on coalition forces.
These actions, led by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), were a reaction to a series of assaults in Iraq and Syria, which resulted in injuries to three U.S. troops.
The strikes, executed under President Joe Biden’s directive, were described as “necessary and proportionate.”
Initial Attack and Retaliatory Action
A drone strike earlier on a U.S. base in Erbil, Iraq, left one American soldier critically injured. In response, the U.S. targeted facilities associated with Kataib Hezbollah at around 8:45 p.m. EST on December 25.
According to the White House National Security Council, this retaliation was necessitated by injuries sustained among U.S. personnel due to the drone attack.
Defense Secretary’s Statement
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that the President ordered these strikes following the attacks.
He emphasized, “Today, at President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces conducted necessary and proportionate strikes on three facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups in Iraq.” Austin highlighted the intent of these precision strikes to disrupt the capabilities of the Iran-aligned militia groups responsible for the attacks.
CENTCOM on Targeted Facilities
CENTCOM’s initial assessments indicated the successful destruction of the targeted facilities, with possible casualties among Kataib Hezbollah.
Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, CENTCOM Commander, stated, “These strikes are intended to hold accountable those elements directly responsible for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and Syria and degrade their ability to continue attacks. We will always protect our forces.”
Solidarity with Injured Personnel
The Erbil Air Base attack by Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-sponsored terrorist group, along with affiliated factions, resulted in severe injuries to U.S. forces, including a critically injured service member. Expressing his solidarity, Mr. Austin stated, “My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured today.”
U.S. Government’s Stance
The U.S. maintains that these defensive actions were in response to provocations and aimed to convey a clear message about the consequences of attacking American personnel. The White House NSC informed that President Biden was briefed on the attack and later ordered the Pentagon to prepare response options.
National Security Considerations
NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson confirmed that President Biden ordered the strikes during a call with Secretary Austin and other national security team members.
The strikes were aimed at locations involved in “unmanned aerial drone activities.” Watson reiterated, “The President places no higher priority than the protection of American personnel serving in harm’s way.” Mr. Austin echoed this commitment, asserting the U.S.’ readiness to defend its interests and personnel in the region.