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Joe Biden Orders Airstrikes on Iranian-Backed Forces Following Attack That Injured Three U.S. Troops

President Joe Biden authorized airstrikes in Iraq following an attack on the Erbil Air Base that resulted in three U.S. service members being wounded by a one-way attack drone on Monday morning. 

The National Security Council spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, revealed that Iranian-backed militia Kataib Hezbollah and affiliated groups claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day attack, with one U.S. troop sustaining critical injuries.

Upon being briefed about the situation and injuries, President Biden instructed the Department of Defense to prepare retaliation options. 

Ultimately, he directed strikes against three locations utilized by Kataib Hezbollah and associated groups, focusing specifically on unmanned aerial drone activities, as stated by Watson. 

The response took place approximately 12 hours after the initial injuries, resulting in one militant killed and 18 injured, according to Iraqi officials.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin clarified that the strikes aimed to disrupt and degrade the responsible groups’ capabilities.

U.S. Central Command suggested that the airstrikes likely targeted several Kataib Hezbollah militants.

President Biden had previously warned Iran about potential U.S. retaliation if attacks on American troops occurred during the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

Army Gen. Erik Kurilla, Chief of U.S. Central Command, emphasized that the strikes aimed to hold accountable those directly responsible for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and Syria while degrading their ability to continue such actions.

The Pentagon has been actively addressing concerns related to the Israel-Hamas conflict, particularly regarding militant groups backed by Iran operating in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Houthi rebels in Yemen. 

Rocket attacks on bases with U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq have increased since October 7, prompting airstrikes on sites involved in storing and firing rockets.

In response to drone attacks on commercial vessels by Houthi rebels, the Pentagon established a coalition in the Red Sea. 

Over the weekend, Houthi rebels targeted ships, including the USS Laboon, a guided-missile destroyer. The Laboon intercepted four drones aimed at it. 

Subsequently, the Laboon and F/A-18 Super Hornet warplanes shot down 12 attack drones and three anti-ship cruise missiles in the southern Red Sea on Tuesday, with no reported injuries or damage to ships. Houthi militants have carried out 15 attacks on commercial shipping since October 17.

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