US hits militia blamed for killing American contractor
The military strikes were carried out in Iraq and Syria
The US has carried out military strikes in Iraq and Syria targeting a militia blamed for a rocket attack that killed an American contractor, a Defence Department spokesman said on Sunday.
US forces conducted “precision defensive strikes” against five sites of Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, an Iran-backed Iraqi militia, spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said in a statement that three US airstrikes on Sunday evening hit the headquarters of the Hezbollah Brigades at the Iraq-Syria border, killing four fighters.
Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades, a separate force from the Lebanese group Hezbollah, operate under the umbrella of the state-sanctioned militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilisation Forces. Many of them are supported by Iran.
The Popular Mobilization Forces said on Sunday the US strikes killed at least 19 of Kataeb Hezbollah’s members.
The US blames the militia for a rocket barrage on Friday that killed a US defence contractor at a military compound near Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. Officials said attackers fired as many as 30 rockets in Friday’s assault.
Hoffman said the US attacks would limit the militia’s ability to carry out future strikes against Americans and their Iraqi allies.
The Defence Department said the US hit three of the militia’s sites in Iraq and two in Syria, including weapon depots and the militia’s command and control bases.
The strikes were carried out by US Air Force F-15 Strike Eagles, said a US official who was not authorised to publicly discuss details of the attacks. At the ammunition storage facilities that were struck, significant secondary explosions were observed.