The US Army’s central command chief, General Kenneth McKenzie Jr., considers that the strike by his country’s forces in Iraq was a clear message that the US will not accept any aggression against it, warning Iraqi militias from launching any similar attack and declaring that they will “pay the cost”.
“We have evidence that the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades fired a missile that killed three soldiers from the International Coalition forces,” announced General McKenzie in a press statement on Friday.
He added: “This strike sends a clear message that we will not accept any aggression against us,” pointing out that US aircraft carriers have an authorisation to attack if they detect any threat.
The US Department of Defence issued a statement confirming the bombing of sites of the Iraqi Hezbollah, and reported that it: “Targeted weapon storage facilities in order to significantly reduce their ability to launch future attacks against the International Coalition forces.”
Reuters quoted US officials as stating that the US carried out retaliatory strikes in Iraq, in response to a missile attack on Wednesday, on Al-Taji base.
Al-Taji military base, north of Baghdad, was hit on Wednesday evening by ten missiles, killing two US army soldiers and a British contractor, and injuring 12 others, according to statistics issued by the Pentagon.
McKenzie further elucidated: “We have reached a deterrent level with Iran, and they are exploiting their agents. The attack is a message that this will not be tolerated.”
“We started moving in Iraq to deploy the Patriot missiles, but they are not ready yet,” McKenzie added while warning the militias, he described as “Iran’s agents”: “If they launch any other attack on us in Iraq, they will pay the cost.”
“We succeeded in targeting five areas in Iraq with air fighters,” confirmed McKinsey, stressing: “We have the right for defence against any targeting of our forces in Iraq.”
McKenzie did not announce the results of the US strike, but clarified: “We are assessing the strike,” and did not rule out the possibility of any deaths.
The US commander also stated that: “The Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq are linked to Iran,” denying that he held any information about the death of any leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
He explained that the strike that his country’s forces launched on military sites in Iraq was: “To stave off any attack on us,” stressing: “We have a comprehensive authorisation to launch a pre-emptive attack.”
Last Thursday, the Pentagon blamed an Iranian-backed militia for the attack that killed and wounded US soldiers.
Tensions have been escalating between the US and Iran in the region for months, especially following Washington’s assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and several leaders of the pro-Tehran Popular Mobilisation Forces, near Baghdad International Airport in January.
Tehran counterattacked by bombing the two US air bases Ain Al-Assad and Harir in Iraq, and mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian civilian plane that was heading from Tehran to Kiev, killing all of its passengers.