A powerful Iraqi militia backed by Iran on Monday said that U.S. airstrikes in western Iraq had left 25 militiamen dead and 50 others wounded, thus increasing Sunday’s death toll.
On Sunday, the U.S. military said it carried out “precision defensive strikes” in Iraq and Syria against the Kataib Hezbollah militia group, which was blamed for an attack earlier this week that killed a U.S. citizen.
“The strikes targeted five sites in total: three in Iraq and two in Syria,’’ the Pentagon said in a statement.
Following the attack, Iraq’s Hashd Shaabi militia, the umbrella group of Kataib Hezbollah, said the U.S. bombing left 19 militiamen dead and 35 others wounded.
On Monday, Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah group condemned the U.S. airstrikes, calling it a blatant attack on Iraq’s sovereignty, security and stability and on the Iraqi people.
“This aggression confirms anew that the U.S. administration wants to hit the elements of power, which are able to face (Islamic State) and the forces of extremism and criminality,” Hezbollah said in a statement carried by al-Manar TV.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraq’s Kataib Hezbollah, a Hashed Shaabi faction, are both backed by Iran.
The U.S. strikes came after a rocket attack on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk that resulted in the death of a civilian contractor and injured four U.S. service members and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces.