The US has struck two Iranian linked facilities in Iraq in response to what it said were attacks against US forces by Iran and Iran-backed groups, widening the arena for Washington’s retaliation against Iran.
Since the outbreak of the Israel-Palestine war, the US has responded to previous attacks by striking Iranian-linked targets in Syria, but has operated more carefully in Iraq in a bid to manage ties with Baghdad and reduce the risk of escalation with Tehran.
US forces and their coalition partners came under attack Monday when Iranian-backed forces launched a short range ballistic missile at Ain al-Asad Air Basin in Iraq, causing eight injuries to US personnel.
A US AC-130 aircraft responded to that attack after it located the Iranian-backed forces on a vehicle, killing three fighters, according to the Pentagon.
The casualties, and use of a ballistic missile, appears to have upped the ante for Washington. The attack also came as the Biden administration faced some criticism for not responding forcefully enough to Iranian attacks.
The US says there has been 66 strikes by Iran-backed militias on US forces and American bases since 17 October.