Joe Biden ordered the United States military to launch retaliatory airstrikes against Iranian-backed militia groups after three U.S. service members sustained injuries in a drone attack in Iraq.

“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. 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,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement.

“Today’s attack led to three injuries to U.S. personnel, leaving one service member in critical condition. My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured today,” he added.

“National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said one of the U.S. troops suffered critical injuries in the attack that occurred earlier Monday. The Iranian-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups, under an umbrella of Iranian-backed militants, claimed credit for the attack that utilized a one-way attack drone,” ABC News reports.

“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,” said General Michael Erik Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, in a statement.


More from ABC News:

Iraqi officials said U.S. strikes targeting militia sites early Tuesday killed one militant and injured 18. They came at a time of heightened fears of a regional spillover of the Israel-Hamas war.

Iranian officials vowed revenge for the killing of Mousavi but did not immediately launch a retaliatory strike. The militia attack Monday in northern Iraq was launched prior to the strike in Syria that killed Mousavi.

Biden, who was spending Christmas at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, was alerted about the attack by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan shortly after it occurred Monday and ordered the Pentagon and his top national security aides to prepare response options to the attack on an air base used by American troops in Irbil.

Open Source Intelligence Monitor shared footage allegedly of the aftermath from the U.S. airstrikes.

“Footage showing the Aftermath from tonight’s U.S. Airstrikes against Iranian-Backed Militias near the City of Hillah in Central Iraq; a number of Buildings were Destroyed with reports of multiple Casualties, OSINTdefender wrote.


Reuters reports:

The U.S. military has already come under attack at least 100 times in Iraq and Syria since the Israel-Hamas war began in October, usually with a mix of rockets and one-way attack drones.

The U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad also came under mortar fire earlier in December, the first time it had been attacked in more than a year, in a major escalation.

The latest unrest came less than a week after Austin returned from a trip to the Middle East focused on containing efforts by Iran-aligned groups to broaden of the Israel-Hamas war.

That includes setting up a U.S.-led maritime coalition to safeguard Red Sea commerce following a series of drone and missile attacks against commercial vessels by Houthi militants in Yemen.

The Pentagon said on Thursday that more than 20 countries have agreed to participate in the new U.S.-led coalition, known as Operation Prosperity Guardian.

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