The Iraqi government has expressed strong disapproval of the recent US strikes on sites utilised by Iranian-backed groups in Iraq.
A spokesperson for Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani expressed strong concern over the violation of his country’s sovereignty.
The US claimed that its attacks were proportionate and focused on groups affiliated with Iran.
The paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) expressed their outrage over the US action, describing it as “treacherous” and claiming that one of their fighters was killed.
The PMF, which is predominantly composed of Iran-backed Shia Muslim militias, reported that several fighters sustained injuries in attacks on their bases in al-Qaim, a town situated on the Syrian border in western Anbar province, and in Jurf al-Nasr, located in the central province of Babil.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the strikes on three facilities owned by the Kataib Hezbollah militia and other groups were a direct response to a series of escalating attacks against US and other international forces in Iraq and Syria.
In a statement, Major General Yehia Rasool, a spokesman for Prime Minister Sudani, expressed concern over the US action, describing it as a reckless escalation.
“This act is extremely concerning as it undermines the progress made through years of cooperation… especially during a time when the region is already dealing with the potential for further conflict and the consequences of the recent aggression in Gaza,” he stated, alluding to the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.
He emphasised that Iraq would view the US operations as hostile acts towards its people on their own soil, and called on the international community to assist in restoring peace.
In a recent statement, Iraq national security adviser Qassem al-Aaraji expressed his belief that the recent US action would not contribute to a peaceful resolution.
He suggested that the US should focus on urging for a ceasefire in Gaza instead of attacking the facilities of an Iraqi organization.
Last week, there was an incident at Iraq’s Al Asad air base in Anbar province that resulted in injuries to four US military personnel.
The Pentagon announced on Tuesday that they have resumed operations and reported no major harm to their facilities.
An air base hosting American troops was targeted by an Iran-backed militia, according to the US military’s Central Command (Centcom).
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for that attack.
An umbrella group formed in late 2023, consisting of various militias with ties to Iran that are active in Iraq. Other attacks against US forces have been claimed in recent weeks.
According to Mr. Austin, our intention is not to intensify tensions in the region. We are fully committed to ensuring the safety of our people and our facilities.
“We urge these groups and their Iranian sponsors to halt these attacks without delay.”
“The strikes focused on the headquarters, storage, and training sites of [Kataib Hezbollah] in relation to rocket, missile, and one-way attack UAV capabilities,” it stated, without disclosing their specific locations.
Kataib Hezbollah, also known as Brigades of the Party of God, is a formidable Iraqi Shia militia that benefits from substantial financial and military backing from Iran.
There are strong connections between it and Iran’s Quds Force, which is the overseas operations arm of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps.
Since 2009, the US has labelled the group as a terrorist organisation, alleging its involvement in attacks against US and Iraqi forces in Iraq on behalf of Iran, and its potential threat to Iraq’s stability.
The recent attack on Al Asad air base occurred after a US drone strike in Baghdad that resulted in the death of a senior PMF commander.
US troops stationed in Iraq and Syria have faced numerous attacks from fighters aligned with Iran since the conflict in Gaza began in October.
Both the US and UK have taken action against Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi movement following their series of missile and drone attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
In recent developments, Iran has conducted a series of missile strikes in the past week, targeting locations in Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan. These strikes were reportedly aimed at groups such as the Islamic State, Israel, and a Baloch separatist group.
Last Saturday, Iran made allegations against Israel regarding an air strike in the Syrian capital, Damascus. The attack resulted in the unfortunate loss of five senior members of Iran’s security forces.