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Iraq: One killed and 18 wounded in US strikes on pro-Iran military sites

Iraqi government calls air strikes 'hostile acts' after Pentagon said it struck areas used by pro-Iran forces to target US forces
Iraqi security personnel in armoured vehicles stationed on a street in Baghdad on 26 December 2023 (AFP)
Iraqi security personnel in armoured vehicles stationed on a street in Baghdad on 26 December 2023 (AFP)

The US conducted a new round of strikes on Iran-backed sites in Iraq early on Tuesday morning, killing one member of pro-Iranian forces and wounding 20 people, including civilians.

One strike targeted a Hashd al-Shaabi site in the central city of Hilla, while another hit the southern province of Wassit.

The attack had come as a response to the targeting of a US military base in northern Iraq by Kataib Hezbollah on Monday, wounding three American military personnel, one critically, the US National Security Council said in a statement. 

The Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah forms part of the Hashd al-Shaabi, a coalition of former paramilitary forces that are now integrated into Iraq's regular armed forces.

The attack drew an angry response from Baghdad which denounced the strike as a "hostile act".

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"It runs counter to the pursuit of enduring mutual interests in establishing security and stability, and it opposes the declared intention of the American side to enhance relations with Iraq," the Iraqi government said in a statement.

The US has around 2,500 soldiers deployed in Iraq as part of a mission to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State group.

Tensions in the region have been high since the start of Israel's war on Gaza in October, with the US repeatedly targeting sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iran and its proxy forces in retaliation for attacks on American forces in the region. 

On Monday an Israeli airstrike outside the Syrian capital Damascus killed a senior adviser in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and three fighters.

The strike had targeted Razi Moussavi, the most senior commander in the Quds Force - the foreign arm of the IRGC - to be killed outside Iran in nearly four years.

Iran's state television interrupted its regular news broadcast to announce that Mousavi had been killed, describing him as one of the Guard's oldest advisers in Syria.

The IRGC has vowed to avenge Mousavi, who was responsible for coordinating the military alliance between Syria and Iran, according to Reuters.

"Iran reserves the right to take necessary measures to respond to this action at the appropriate time and place," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani told state media.

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