US authorizes strikes after drone attack in Iraq

President Joe Biden authorized the US military to conduct counter-strikes against Iranian-supported militia groups following an attack with a drone in northern Iraq that injured three US service members.

Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the national security council, confirmed that one soldier sustained severe injuries during the assault earlier on Monday. The attack was carried out in Iraq by Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia, using a drone.

In response, US strikes targeted militia sites, resulting in the death of one militant and injuries to 18 others, as per Iraqi officials. These strikes occurred amid heightened tensions stemming from regional conflicts, including the Israel-Hamas war.

On the same day, Iran reported the death of one of its senior generals, Seyed Razi Mousavi, in an Israeli strike near Damascus, Syria. Mousavi, a close associate of the late Iranian General Qassem Suleimani, who was killed by a US drone in Iraq in 2020, triggered vows of retaliation from Iranian officials.

President Biden, who was at Camp David for Christmas, was briefed on the attack by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Subsequently, the Pentagon was directed to prepare response strategies.

Biden, after consulting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, opted to target three locations used by the militia groups. The strikes, executed less than 13 hours after the initial attack, reportedly destroyed the targeted facilities and likely resulted in casualties among the militants.

A spokesperson emphasized Biden’s commitment to safeguarding US personnel and affirmed that further action would be taken if attacks persist.

These recent incidents add to months of escalating tensions involving attacks on American forces in the region, originating from conflicts such as the Israel-Hamas war and ongoing confrontations with Iranian-backed groups targeting US facilities in Iraq and Syria.

The United States has previously responded to similar attacks, including airstrikes on militia-operated centers and command nodes. Additionally, Iran has been accused of supporting militant activities targeting both military and commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

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