The air strikes came after Erbil Air Base was attacked earlier in the day.
U.S. military forces conducted several airstrikes on facilities in Iraq used by Kataib Hezbollah — an Iraqi paramilitary group also known as Kataib Hezbollah — and affiliated groups on Christmas Eve, according to statements from the Department of Defense.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the strikes were carried out at the direction of President Joe Biden and in response to attacks carried out by groups against coalition forces in the region. One of those attacks targeted Erbil Air Base earlier on December 25, wounding three American personnel. A statement issued by the Minister of Defense said that a service member was left in critical condition as a result of the attack on the air base.
“My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured,” Austin said in his statement.
His statement continued: “And let me be clear – the President and I will not hesitate to take the necessary actions to defend the United States, our forces, and our interests.” “There is no higher priority. While we do not seek to escalate the conflict in the region, we are committed and fully prepared to take further actions necessary to protect our people and facilities.”
According to US Central Command's initial assessments, the targeted facilities have been destroyed, and there are no signs that any civilians were affected.
“These strikes aim to hold accountable those elements directly responsible for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and Syria and reduce their ability to continue attacks,” General Michael Eric Kurella, commander of US Central Command, said in a statement. “We will always protect our forces.”
National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said the president “was immediately briefed on the attack this morning and directed the Department of Defense to prepare response options against those responsible.”
In a call later with Sec. AUSTIN Biden ordered strikes against three sites used by Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups, specifically focused on drone activities, according to the statement.
“The President places no higher priority than protecting American personnel who are serving in harm's way. The United States will act in a time and manner of our choosing if these attacks continue,” Watson's statement said.
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