US raids slammed as ‘blatant violation’ of Iraq’s sovereignty

The US military said it targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq.

The US has 2,500 soldiers in Iraq, deployed as part of an international coalition to fight what remains of the ISIL group [File: Matthew Burch/EPA]
The US has 2,500 soldiers in Iraq, deployed as part of an international coalition to fight what remains of the ISIL group [File: Matthew Burch/EPA]

28 Jun 2021

Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi has condemned the overnight US air attack on Iran-backed armed groups in Iraq and Syria which a monitor said killed at least seven fighters.

In a statement on Sunday, the US military said it targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq in response to drone attacks against the US personnel and facilities in Iraq.KEEP READINGUS carries out air raids on Iran-backed militias in Syria, IraqEgypt, Jordan and Iraq leaders meet at Baghdad summitIraq’s PMF display tanks and weaponry in large anniversary parade

The attacks came at the direction of US President Joe Biden, the second time he has ordered retaliatory attacks against Iran-backed militia since taking office five months ago.

“We condemn the US air attack that targeted a site last night on the Iraqi-Syrian border, which represents a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security,” said a statement from the Iraqi PM’s office.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said in a statement that the Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada military factions were among the “several Iran-backed militia groups” that had used the targeted facilities.

“The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation – but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message,” Kirby said, adding that the targets were selected because “these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV] attacks against US personnel and facilities in Iraq”.

The statement did not say whether anyone was killed or injured, but the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least seven fighters were killed and several others wounded.

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency said one child had been killed and at least three other people were wounded.

Threat of retaliation

Two Iraqi militia officials told The Associated Press news agency in Baghdad that four militiamen were killed in the air attacks near the border with Syria.

Armed groups aligned with Iran in a statement named four members of the Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada faction they said were killed in the attack on the Syria-Iraq border. They pledged to retaliate.

“We will remain the shield defending our beloved nation, and we are fully ready … to respond and take revenge,” it said.