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Fri Mar 13, 2020, 07:24 PM

U.S. counters Iraq's condemnation of airstrikes on Iran-backed militia facilities

Source: Washington Post

U.S. counters Iraq’s condemnation of airstrikes on Iran-backed militia facilities

By Louisa Loveluck, Dan Lamothe and Mustafa Salim
March 13, 2020 at 2:27 p.m. EDT

LONDON — The United States and Iraq on Friday wrangled over the impact of airstrikes carried out to avenge the deaths of coalition soldiers this week, with a top U.S. general saying the munitions hit military targets while officials in Baghdad insisted that Iraqi troops and a civilian were among the dead.

The U.S. military said it had launched “defensive precision strikes” early Friday morning against targets linked to the Iran-backed group Kataib Hezbollah, calling them a proportional response to a rocket attack that killed one British and two American service members Wednesday.

Marine Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie Jr., the chief of U.S. Central Command, said the strikes were carried out by manned aircraft and hit five weapon storage facilities believed to be used by Kataib Hezbollah south and west of Baghdad.

“We assessed that each location stored weapons that would enable lethal operations against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq,” he said. “We also assessed that the destruction of these sites will degrade Kataib Hezbollah’s ability to conduct future strikes.”

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But in Iraq, the strikes were met with condemnation and risked intensifying the pressure on U.S.-led coalition troops to leave the country. The Iraqi military described the action as “treacherous,” and Iraqi President Barham Salih described it as a “violation of national sovereignty.”

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Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/iraq-condemns-us-strikes-on-iran-backed-militias-say-they-killed-soldiers-and-a-civilian/2020/03/13/33650322-6519-11ea-8a8e-5c5336b32760_story.html

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