In response to attacks on US bases that have escalated alongside Israel’s operations against Hamas in Gaza, US fighter aircraft struck two Hezbollah operations centers in Iraq, two defense officials said.
They said attacks on US bases included the first use of a short-range ballistic missile against US troops, which happened Tuesday.
The US fighter jets struck Kataib Hezbollah operations center and a Kataib Hezbollah Command and Control node near Al Anbar and Jurf al Saqr, south of Baghdad, on Tuesday, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to provide additional sensitive details of the attacks. There were Kataib Hezbollah personnel at both sites at the time of the strikes but the officials said they could not yet confirm whether anyone there was killed.
The US strike followed another immediate, unplanned retaliatory strike by an AC-130 gunship that was in the air when the Iranian-backed militants fired two short-range ballistic missiles at Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq late Monday evening. The gunship was able to locate the origin of the missiles, and fired on several militants who had fled in a vehicle.
The officials said the US is trying to communicate that it does not seek wider conflict but that the Iran-backed attacks against American forces must stop, and that the US will take further action if needed.
To date, US bases in Iraq and Syria have been struck 66 times since Oct. 17, the day a blast at a hospital in Gaza killed hundreds.