The US has conducted retaliatory airstrikes in Iraq against a pro-Iranian militia group after two of its soldiers were killed by a rocket attack.
The strikes targeted five facilities for the storage of arms across the region, the US department of defense said.
Two Americans and a British soldier were killed in a missile assault on the military base at Camp Taji on Wednesday.
The Iraqi military says the US counter-strikes killed three troops, two police officers and a civilian.
It said the US had carried out “a brazen attack” on Iraqi military sites in the province of Babil, and an airport under construction in the province of Karbala. It also said the Popular Mobilisation (PM) forces headquarters-a umbrella militia that is officially part of the Iraqi security forces-was hit.
A US commander earlier said Kataib Hezbollah-one of the PM’s most powerful groups-was likely to have fired the rockets.
“The Kataib Hezbollah Iranian proxy group is the only group known to have previously carried out an indirect fire attack of this scale on U.S. forces and coalition forces in Iraq,” Central Command Chief Gen Kenneth McKenzie told a Senate committee.
The Department of Defense reported a series of “defensive precision attacks” against five Kataib Hezbollah installations that stored weapons and rockets had been carried out by manned aircraft.
“This contains facilities containing weapons that were used to threaten U.S. and coalition forces,” it said. “[The strikes] were defensive, proportionate and in direct response to the threat posed by groups of Shia militias backed by Iran.”
“Attacks against our people, our interests or our allies won’t be tolerated by the United States,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. “We shall take whatever action is appropriate to protect our powers.”
In the past year, the US has accused Iran-backed militias of 13 similar attacks on Iraqi bases that host coalition forces.
The killing of an American civilian in one of those incidents in December sparked a round of violence that eventually led Mr. Trump to order the assassination the following month of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.