US retaliates against Iran-backed militants after ballistic missile strike, officials say

The Pentagon believes the counterstrike killed several Iran-linked militants.

The U.S. military fired back at Iran-backed militants who injured several troops in Iraq early Tuesday morning local time, according to U.S. officials.

The militants launched a ballistic missile attack from a truck against U.S. forces at al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq, leaving several service members with minor injuries, according to U.S. officials.

“I can confirm an attack last night by Iran backed militias using a close-range ballistic missile against U.S. and coalition forces at al-Assad Airbase in Iraq, which resulted in several non-serious injuries and some minor damage to infrastructure.” from deputy Pentagon press sec Sabrina Singh.

“We can confirm an attack last night by Iran-backed militias using a close-range ballistic missile against us and coalition forces at Al-Asad airbase, which resulted in eight injuries and minor damage to infrastructure. Immediately following the attack, a U.S. military AC-130 aircraft in the area conducted a self defense strike against an Iranian-backed militia vehicle and a number of Iranian-backed militia personnel involved in this attack,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.

An American AC-130 gunship that was airborne in the region at the time observed the attack and tracked the militants’ vehicle and then fired back. The U.S. assesses several of the Iran-linked fighters were killed in the swift counterstrike.

The missile attack on al-Asad is the 66th such attack from Iran proxies against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17, when a near-daily spate of aggression began. Roughly 70 U.S. troops have received minor injuries or traumatic brain injuries in that time, according to the Pentagon.

Last week, U.S. fighter jets hit a weapons storage facility and a command-and-control center in Syria that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and other officials said were used by the Iran-backed groups to conduct its attacks. The U.S. launched two other rounds of similar retaliatory airstrikes since mid-October on Iran-linked facilities, but unlike Tuesday’s AC-130 counterattack, these were planned in advance, as opposed to being targeted in real time.

The U.S. has troops in Iraq and Syria as part of its mission to defeat the remnants of the Islamic State.

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