The U.S. launched five airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, the Trump administration announced Sunday.
The U.S. launched F-15 Strike Eagles against five targets associated with Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia group, Secretary of Defense Mark EsperMark EsperUS launches airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militia in Iraq, Syria Trump escalates pressure campaign on Tehran with appeal to Iranians Russia commissions intercontinental hypersonic weapon MORE told reporters Sunday at a briefing from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
“The strikes were successful,” Esper said. “The pilots and aircraft returned back to base safely.”
The targets included three in Western Iraq and two in Eastern Syria that were either command and control facilities or weapons caches for the Iranian-backed militia group, Esper said.
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS launches airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militia in Iraq, Syria Trump escalates pressure campaign on Tehran with appeal to Iranians Putin’s next aggression MORE, who was with Esper in Florida to brief President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS launches airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militia in Iraq, Syria Trade, interest rates top finance fights for 2020 Five health care fights to watch in 2020 MORE, called the airstrikes a “decisive response” to what he said were threats against American forces that “has been going on now for weeks and weeks and weeks.”
“This wasn’t the first set of attacks against this particular Iraqi facility and others where there were American lives at risk,” Pompeo said.
An American contractor, several U.S. service members and Iraqi personnel were injured Friday in a rocket attack in northern Iraq.
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Esper said he discussed other available options with Trump and said the U.S. “will take additional actions as necessary” to act in self-defense.
The U.S. airstrikes killed at least 25 people, CNN reported citing a statement from Popular Mobilization Units, a Tehran-backed Shiiite militia also known as Hashd al-Shaabi.
The strikes occurred at about 11 a.m. on Sunday, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.