Kataib Hezbollah

Members of the group Kataib Hezbollah carry the body of member reportedly killed in a U.S. airstrike on December 26, 2023 in Baghdad, Iraq.

(Photo: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images)

Iraq Slams US Airstrikes as 'Unacceptable Violation' of Sovereignty

The Iraqi government called the latest round of U.S. bombing "a clear hostile act."

The Iraqi government on Tuesday accused the U.S. of an "unacceptable violation" of national sovereignty after the Biden administration launched a series of airstrikes purportedly targeting a militia group that's seen as an Iranian proxy, a move that critics warned would further inflame tensions in the region and raise the risk of all-out war.

The latest round of bombing in Iraq, approved by U.S. President Joe Biden, was "a clear hostile act" that "works against the declared desire of the American side to strengthen relations," the Iraqi government said in a statement.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the strikes targeted three facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah and unspecified "affiliated groups" in Iraq. Austin said U.S. forces carried out the strikes in response to recent attacks on American servicemembers in Iraq and Syria.

Hours before the U.S. airstrikes, a drone attack injured three American servicemembers at Erbil air base in Iraq, according to the Pentagon, which blamed Kataib Hezbollah.

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said its strikes against the militia group "destroyed the targeted facilities and likely killed a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants."

CENTCOM claimed that "there are no indications that any civilian lives were affected," but Middle East Eye reported that civilians were among the estimated 20 people wounded by the U.S. strikes.

"Hard to predict when these tensions will get out of control and the region is plunged into an abyss."

Attacks on the roughly 2,500 American troops still stationed in Iraq two decades after the U.S. invasion have intensified since the October 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel, which prompted a catastrophic Israeli assault on Gaza that has killed more than 20,000 people and counting.

The latest U.S. strikes in Iraq heightened fears of a full-scale regional conflict, particularly after an Israeli airstrike in Syria on Monday reportedly killed a senior adviser to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

"Hard to predict when these tensions will get out of control and the region is plunged into an abyss," Randa Slim, director of the Conflict Resolution and Track II Dialogues Program at the Middle East Institute, wrote on social media. "At some point, one of the many parties that are involved in this conflict will miscalculate."

Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, lamented that "instead of pressuring Israel to agree to a cease-fire in Gaza—which would stop the attacks on U.S. troops by these militias—Biden chooses to engage in tit-for-tat strikes that easily can escalate into a war America absolutely does not need."

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