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U.S. Strikes Iran-Backed Groups in Iraq in Round of Retaliation

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The United States conducted a new round of airstrikes early on Tuesday in Iraq, most likely killing militants and destroying three facilities used by Iranian proxies that had been targeting American and coalition troops, U.S. military officials said.

The American strikes were in retaliation for a series of assaults, including a drone attack hours earlier by members of Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups on Erbil air base in Iraq, U.S. officials said. The drone attack injured three American service members, one of them critically, officials said.

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

The latest strikes targeted facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah, a militia group in Iraq that is considered a proxy of Iran.

After the Erbil attack, which took place on Christmas morning Eastern time, President Biden ordered the Department of Defense to prepare response options, White House officials said, and later in the day authorized the strikes.

Mr. Biden chose specific Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated facilities that had been used to launch unmanned aerial drone attacks, officials said.

In a statement, U.S. Central Command said that early assessments indicated that the U.S. airstrikes destroyed the targeted facilities and most likely killed a number of militants. The statement said that there were no indications of civilian casualties.

“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,” Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla of U.S. Central Command said in the statement. “We will always protect our forces.”

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