U.S. launches airstrikes on Iran-backed militants after attack in Iraq

November 22, 2023

The U.S. military launched a number of retaliatory, precision airstrikes on Iran-backed targets after multiple close-range missiles were launched against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq Monday.

“A U.S. military  AC-130J Ghostrider attacked an Iran-backed militant group after the group used a ballistic missile to attack U.S. and coalition forces on Al-Asad Airbase, Iraq, the deputy pentagon press secretary said today,” the Pentagon reported on Tuesday.

U.S. officials said the U.S. AC-130 gunship, which is capable of firing artillery at ground-based targets, was acting in defense. According to Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh, the ballistic missile attack on Al-Asad resulted in non-serious injuries to U.S. and coalition forces, as well as minor damage on infrastructure at the airbase. 

Another defense official told CNN that the facilities targeted by the U.S. military—an operations center and command and control node near Al Anbar and Jurf al Saqr, Iraq, south of Baghdad—were used by radical Shiite paramilitary group Kataib Hezbollah to “support recent attacks on U.S. and coalition bases in Iraq and Syria.”

It was the latest in a string of retaliatory attacks by the U.S. following strikes by Iran-backed militants in Iraq and Syria.

Since October 17, according to Singh, U.S. forces have been attacked 66 times in both Iraq and Syria amid the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. At least 56 U.S. personnel have been injured in those attacks, and at least 25 of those service members suffered traumatic brain injuries, though all have since returned to duty.

Earlier this month, a senior defense official called Iran “the center of gravity” for the attacks on U.S. forces in the region.

Singh has asserted that the U.S. is carrying out “proportionate” responses while seeking to not escalate the conflict sparked by the Israel-Hamas war. 

“We feel right now that we’ve taken appropriate action to decimate some of their facilities and some of their weapons,” she said on Tuesday, adding, “We always reserve the right to respond at a time and place of our choosing.”

PHOTO: AC-130 over Hurlburt Field, Florida

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