Strike kills five pro-Iran militants in Iraq: Security sources

An airstrike in northern Iraq killed at least five pro-Iranian militants on Sunday, Iraqi security sources said, a day after Baghdad warned Washington against “attacks” on its territory.

The raid targeted a site used by an armed group affiliated with Hashed al-Shaabi, a coalition of former paramilitary forces integrated into Iraq’s regular military, a senior security official in Kirkuk province said, without saying who launched it.

A defense official in Baghdad said “a drone targeted a position of al-Nujaba group in the Dibis area” near the border of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

The strike resulted in “five dead and five wounded,” the official said.

A US military official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed a “self-defense strike” was carried out in northern Iraq against a drone launch site “in the vicinity of Kirkuk” against “an imminent threat.”

Late Sunday, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq – a loose formation of armed groups affiliated with the Hashed al-Shaabi – announced in a statement the deaths of “five martyrs.”

It said they were killed during fighting with “American occupation forces in Iraq.”

Iraqi police reported finding “debris apparently of a drone” at the bombarded site.

It came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said during a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Baghdad rejected “any attack on Iraqi territory,” according to a statement from al-Sudani’s office.

Al-Sudani also said the Iraqi government is committed “to ensuring the safety of the international coalition advisers present in Iraq.”

Regional tensions

War since October 7 between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Hamas in the Gaza Strip has sent tensions soaring across the region, with attacks multiplying by pro-Iranian groups targeting US forces in Iraq and Syria.

In Iraq, most were claimed by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.

Deadly US strikes in late November targeted pro-Iranian militants in response to repeated attacks by their groups on US troops in the region.

US forces have also struck Iran-linked targets in Syria.

The attacks on US soldiers largely stopped during the one-week truce in the Israel-Hamas war, but the abrupt end to the pause in fighting on Friday raised fears of regional escalation.

Washington counted at least 76 attacks on its forces in Iraq and Syria since October 17 – 10 days after the start of the Israel-Hamas war – according to an updated tally given by a US military official.

The attacks included rocket fire and drone strikes, and have left at least 60 US personnel wounded, the Pentagon says.

The war in Gaza was sparked by Hamas’s unprecedented attack on southern Israel which Israeli officials say killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

Israel has responded with an intense air and ground campaign that the Hamas-run health ministry says has killed more than 15,500 people in the narrow Palestinian territory, also mostly civilians.

Also on Sunday “several rockets” targeted US and coalition forces deployed on a base in eastern Syria, without causing any casualties or damage, according to a US military official.

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