The U.S. Department of Defense announced early on March 13 that it had carried out “defensive precision strikes” against Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) in Iraq.
In an official statement, the DoD said the “defensive strikes” were carried out in direct response to the threat posed by Iranian-backed Shiite militia groups, holding these group responsible for recent attacks on its bases in Iraq.
The U.S. strikes targeted five weapons storage facilities of KH. The DoD claimed that the facilities contained weapons used to target U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq.
“The United States will not tolerate attacks against our people, our interests, or our allies,” Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper said. “As we have demonstrated in recent months, we will take any action necessary to protect our forces in Iraq and the region.”
Iraq’s Security Media Cell said a “U.S. aggression” targeted position of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), the Iraqi military’s Emergency Regiments and 19th Division in the areas of Jurf Sakhar, Musayib, Alexandria and Najaf.
Airstrikes were also reported near the eastern Syrian city of al-Bukamal on the border with Iraq. A wave of airstrikes targeted Iranian forces’ positions there a day earlier.
Some Iraqi sources claimed that British warplanes took part in the attack. However, this is yet to be confirmed by the UK.
Initial reports indicate that some of the U.S. strikes resulted in causalities. Several sources are talking about at least one civilian casualty in a strikes on an airport near Karbala city. These reports are yet to be verified.
القصف الجوي الامريكي على مطار كربلاء المدني حيث تتخذه ميليشيا علي الأكبر مقرا لها. pic.twitter.com/UfrnB5QhMR
— Rand Musawi (@RandMusawi) March 12, 2020
Earlier today, KH released a statement praising the attack on Camp Taji without claiming responsibility for it. The group called on the perpetrators to reveal themselves, promising to support and protect them.
If the reports of human losses are true, the situation could escalate even further in the upcoming few hours. Iraqi Shiite groups had vowed to expel U.S. forces from Iraqi by all possible means.