By Jack Phillips
Iran threatened the United States with “consequences” after Washington carried out airstrikes against an Iran-backed militia in Iraq, which came after the designated terrorist group killed an American defense contractor during strikes of its own.
The United States “has demonstrated its decisive support for terrorism and disregard for the independence and sovereignty of nations by launching these attacks, and it must accept the responsibility for the consequences of such illegal measures,” claimed Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mosavi, reported the state-run Tasnim News agency.
In a statement from the Department of Defense on Sunday, the Pentagon meted out “precision defensive strikes against” Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) militant positions in Iraq and Syria after the group attacked U.S. coalition forces.
“The five targets include three KH locations in Iraq and two in Syria. These locations included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks” on coalition forces, according to the statement.
It noted that KH conducted about three-dozen rocket attacks on the Kirkuk airbase in Iraq that resulted in the death of a U.S. contractor. Four American armed service members and two Iraqi army soldiers were also injured in these attacks, the Defense Department said.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah described the Pentagon-led strike as “a blatant violation on the sovereignty, security and stability of Iraq and the Iraqi people,” the terrorist group’s al-Manar TV said in a statement on Monday.
“This aggression affirms again that the U.S. administration wants to strike the power factors within the Iraqi people who are capable of confronting Daesh (ISIS) and other U.S.-backed extremist and criminal groups,” the statement read.
The U.S. Department of State officially classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, the Pentagon noted that KH also has ties to Iran’s Quds Force.
“It is important to note that KH attacks have also injured multiple members of the [Iraqi Security Forces, or ISF]. Secretary [Mark] Esper and Prime Minister Mahdi have shared with each other their commitment to see these KH attacks on ISF” and forces that were deployed to defeat the ISIS terrorist group.
Following the strikes, President Donald Trump was briefed by his top national security advisers following the strikes at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
“We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters after the briefing with Trump, Reuters reported.
Esper said that while the attack on the bases was a success, he told the president that more attacks might be warranted.
“We discussed with him other options that are available,” Esper said. “I would note also that we will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defense and we deter further bad behavior from militia groups or from Iran.”