(RepublicanJournal.org) – US Central Command (CENTCOM) has launched strikes against terrorist groups in Iraq. The airstrikes were in response to terror attacks that injured three US military personnel on Christmas Day. The Biden administration says the “precision strikes” were successful and caused no civilian casualties — and warned that they’ll be repeated if the terrorists attack again.
US Base Hit by Drone
On December 25, terrorists from Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed group that was set up after the 2003 Iraq war, attacked the US airbase at Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan with a kamikaze drone. Three US personnel were injured in the attack, leaving one in critical condition.
This was the latest of a series of recent raids by terrorists against US bases in Iraq and Syria, all of them carried out by militias linked to Iran. In retaliation, US forces responded with strikes on three bases used by Kataib Hezbollah. A video claimed to show the results of a US strike doesn’t reveal any details of how it was carried out, but when the group attacked the Al-Asad airbase in November, the USAF used an AC-130 gunship to retaliate.
These aircraft operate out of Al-Asad and are ideal for precision strikes where it’s important to avoid collateral damage because they can use their sensors and guns to hit targets very accurately. Unlike a cruise missile or conventional airstrike, the sensor operators on the aircraft can watch the target in real-time right up to the moment the guns are fired, allowing the pilot to hold fire if there’s a risk to civilians.
A Delicate Strategy
In the aftermath of the strikes, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the retaliation had been “necessary and proportionate,” and was directed against bases used by Kataib Hezbollah “and affiliated groups.” He said the goal was to “disrupt and degrade” Iran’s proxy forces inside Iraq and that the Biden administration won’t hesitate to protect its troops. In a separate statement, CENTCOM said several terrorists were probably killed in the strikes. A spokesman, General Michael Erik Kurilla, told reporters the US response was intended to hold terror groups accountable and reduce their ability to carry out attacks.
With Hamas losing badly in its ongoing war against Israel in the Gaza Strip, Iran is keen to take the pressure off by widening the conflict –- and it has links with many groups it can use for that. By hitting back with limited, precise strikes the administration will hope to deter more attacks against US troops, without giving Iran the escalation it wants.
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