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Criticism from Baghdad Over Christmas Strike on Iran-Backed Terror Group

“My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement. Saul Loeb/AFP
“My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement. Saul Loeb/AFP

The United States military conducted precision strikes on Christmas day against the Islamic Republic of Iran-backed Shiite terrorist group Kataib Hezbollah and other related organizations in Iraq after several U.S. service members were injured when said groups attacked Erbil Air Base.

In a press release, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said that American forces "conducted necessary and proportionate strikes on three facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups in Iraq."

"These precision strikes are a response to a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias, including an attack by Iran-affiliated Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups on Erbil Air Base earlier today, and intended to disrupt and degrade capabilities of the Iran-aligned militia groups directly responsible."

According to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the strikes against Kataib Hezbollah facilities occurred at 8:45 pm ET.

"There are no indications that any civilian lives were affected," a CENTCOM statement said.

Following the attack, the Iraqi government said that one security 'serviceman' was killed along with several others. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani's office described the U.S. airstrikes as "hostile acts" that "infringe upon Iraq's sovereignty and are deemed unacceptable under any circumstances or justification."

Kataib Hezbollah is a radical Iraqi Shiite terrorist group supported by Iran. During the 2003 war in Iraq, the group fought against U.S. coalition forces and was heavily active in the Syrian civil war alongside the Shiite Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

When asked for more information from the U.S. State Department regarding the recent strike, an official referred The Foreign Desk to the National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Adrienne Watson who responded, "The Iranian-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups, under an umbrella of Iranian-backed militants, claimed credit for the attack."

In the statement, Watson noted that the President was "immediately briefed on the attack this morning, and he ordered the Department of Defense to prepare response options against those responsible."

Watson said the President was given options during a call in the afternoon with Secretary of Defense Austin and members of the President's national security team.

"During that call, the President directed strikes against three locations utilized by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups focused specifically on unmanned aerial drone activities," she added.

"The President places no higher priority than the protection of American personnel serving in harm's way. The United States will act at a time and in a manner of our choosing should these attacks continue," the statement read.

Following the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre against Israel, Iran's regime has called on its proxies in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon to attack American and Israeli forces, generating chaos and uncertainty in the Middle East.

Despite the U.S. sending naval forces to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, the Iran-backed Houthis have continued to attack warships and commercial vessels, upending international trade and American strength.

Related Story: U.S. Launches Air Strikes Against Hezbollah in Iraq After Attack on Troops

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