U.S. Strikes 3 Sites in Iraq Linked to Militias Blamed for Base Attack

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The United States on Tuesday carried out military strikes against three facilities in western Iraq associated with Iran-linked militias that American officials say attacked a major base in Iraq on Saturday, according to the Pentagon’s Central Command, injuring at least four U.S. service members.

The American strikes near Iraq’s border with Syria on Tuesday hit headquarters, training locations and storage areas for rockets, missiles and drones belonging to the Kataib Hezbollah militia and other Iran-affiliated groups in Iraq, according to Central Command.

“These precision strikes are in direct response to a series of escalatory attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement.

The attack against Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Saturday was the latest and the most serious of about 151 such rocket and missile strikes directed at U.S. troops based in Iraq and Syria since Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza started.

At least 10 rockets and seven short-range ballistic missiles were fired in a single barrage at the base, with two missiles making it through Patriot and air defense systems, in the most successful attack the militias had carried out so far. At least four U.S. service members have been treated for traumatic brain injuries, but all have since returned to duty, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The attack on Saturday underscored how the region has been pulled into a broader conflict. In another spillover from the war in Gaza, the United States and Britain carried out large-scale military strikes on Monday against eight sites in Yemen controlled by Houthi militants.

Those strikes signaled that the Biden administration has intended to wage a sustained and, at least for now, an open-ended campaign against the Houthis, the Iran-backed group that has disrupted traffic in vital international sea lanes.

Iranian-linked militias in Iraq, known collectively as the Axis of Resistance and which count themselves as part of Iran’s network of allies across the Middle East, claimed in a statement on Saturday that the attack over the weekend was a response to Israel’s war in Gaza.

Al Asad Air Base, in Iraq’s western desert, is now primarily used by Iraqi forces but still has a U.S. contingent. In all, there are 2,500 U.S. troops in Iraq and 900 in northeast Syria, helping to support Iraq and Kurdish Syrian forces in the fight to tamp down the remains of the Islamic State.

At least 83 U.S. personnel have suffered injuries in the attacks by militias in Syria and Iraq, including traumatic brain injuries. All but a few of the troops have been able to return to duty relatively quickly, Pentagon officials said on Tuesday.

Mr. Austin said in his statement that he and President Biden “will not hesitate to take necessary action to defend” American troops in the region. “We do not seek to escalate conflict in the region,” he said. “We are fully prepared to take further measures to protect our people and our facilities.”

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U.S. Strikes 3 Sites in Iraq Linked to Militias Blamed for Base Attack

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