A drone attack carried out by Kataib Hezbollah militants, an Iran-affiliated terrorist group, wounded three U.S. service members at the Erbil Air Base in Iraq. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed the group’s involvement, and President Biden ordered retaliatory strikes on three locations associated with Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups engaged in unmanned aerial drone activities. The retaliatory strikes, conducted in Iraq, likely resulted in casualties among Kataib Hezbollah militants, with no reported civilian casualties.
Reports from AFP cited Iraqi security sources stating that at least one member of a pro-Iran faction was killed, and 24 were wounded in the retaliatory strikes. However, the Iraqi government contradicted this, claiming that the strikes killed one security forces member and wounded 18 others, including civilians. Baghdad denounced the U.S. strikes as a “hostile act,” labeling them an “unacceptable attack on Iraqi sovereignty,” straining relations between Iraq and the U.S.
This incident is part of a series of attacks by Iranian-backed militias targeting U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, escalating since the October 7 terrorist assault on Israel by Hamas. U.S. forces have responded with several rounds of strikes on Iran-linked weapons facilities and Iran-backed fighters. In a similar retaliatory fashion, the U.S. conducted strikes on militia-linked facilities and personnel after several service members were injured in a ballistic missile attack on Al-Asad Airbase in Iraq on November 20.
Simultaneously, Iranian-linked Houthi rebels in Yemen have been conducting numerous attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. The White House accused Iran of deep involvement in these Red Sea attacks, an allegation Tehran denied. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian denied responsibility for a drone fired from Yemen that was shot down by the USS Thomas Hudner, emphasizing Yemen’s independent decisions.
Last week, energy giant BP temporarily suspended all gas and oil shipments in the Red Sea due to the ongoing attacks in the region.