US strikes kill five pro-Hezbollah fighters in Iraq: Security sources

AFP , AP , Wednesday 22 Nov 2023

At least five fighters of a pro-Hezbollah group within Iraq's Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) forces were killed in two US strikes south of Baghdad early Wednesday, security sources said.

Iraqi mourners carry the coffin of Fadel al-Maksusi, a Kataeb Hezbollah fighter who was also part of the Islamic resistance in Iraq , the group that has claimed all recent attacks against US troops in Iraq and Syria, during a funeral in Baghdad on November 21, 2023. AFP


"Five members of the Hezbollah Brigades were killed by aerial bombing in the Jurf al-Sakhar sector," an official in the Iraqi security services told AFP. A Hashed al-Shaabi official confirmed the death toll.

Two US defence officials explained that U.S. fighter aircraft struck two operations centres belonging to Iraqi Hezbollah in response to attacks on U.S. bases that have escalated alongside Israel’s aggression in Gaza.

They said attacks on U.S. bases included the first use of a short-range ballistic missile against U.S. troops, which happened Tuesday.

The U.S. fighter jets struck Kataib Hezbollah operations center and a Kataib Hezbollah Command and Control node near Al Anbar and Jurf al Saqr, south of Baghdad, on Tuesday, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to provide additional sensitive details of the attacks. 

The U.S. strike followed another immediate, unplanned retaliatory strike by an AC-130 gunship that was in the air when the Iranian-backed fighters fired two short-range ballistic missiles at Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq late Monday evening. The gunship was able to locate the origin of the missiles and fired on several militants who had fled in a vehicle.

The officials said the U.S. is trying to communicate that it does not seek wider conflict but that the Iran-backed attacks against American forces must stop, and that the U.S. will take further action if needed.

To date, U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria have been struck 66 times since Oct. 17, the day an Israeli airstrike hit a hospital in Gaza killing hundreds.

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