The airstrikes come after the US assessed an Iranian-backed group was responsible for a rocket attack that killed two American service members and one British soldier at a military base. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon: “Yesterday’s attack by Iranian backed Shia militia groups consisted of multiple indirect fires that originated from a stationary platform and was clearly targeting coalition and partner forces on Camp Taji.”
There have been multiple rocket attacks in Iraq in recent weeks, but Wednesday’s was the first to cause the death of a US soldier since December.
The death heightened tensions further between the two nations, prompting a retaliatory US airstrike against Iranian-backed militia targets in Iraq and Syria.
The retaliatory move killed Iran’s second most powerful leader General Qassem Soleimani.
The US was reviewing options on how to respond, according to the US Defence secretary and a top US general on Thursday.
Wednesday’s rocket attack in Iraq killed three soldiers and wounded a further 12 military personnel.
One of the soldiers who died was Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon, who served as a Reserve with the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry.
She died after the missiles were fired at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad.
A US official said that Thursday’s multiple strikes targeted Kataib Hezbollah weapons facilities inside Iraq.
An official said that it was a joint operation with the British.
The strikes have marked a sudden spike in escalations between Tehran and groups in Iraq.
It comes just two months after Iran carried out a massive ballistic missile attack against American troops at another base in Iraq.
Top US officials sent a warning prior to Thursday’s retaliatory move, making it clear that they knew who did it and that the attackers would be held accountable for their actions.
Officials said that Karbala Province and Jurf al Sakhar were two of the locations.
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At the White House Trump also hinted at a US counter-attack.
He told reporters: “We’ll see what the response is.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley told Pentagon reporters that the US knows “with a high degree of certainty” who launched the attack.
Top US commander for the Middle East Frank McKenzie said on Capitol Hill earlier in the day that the deaths of the soldiers created a “red line” for the US.
But he said he did not think Iran has “a good understanding of where our red line is”.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted his condolences for the British soldier who was killed.
He said: “It is with deep sadness that I learned that a UK soldier was killed in the attack at the Taji military base last night.
“My thoughts go out to their loved ones at this extremely difficult time.”
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