Baghdad, Iraq: In a significant escalation of regional tensions, an airstrike in northern Iraq claimed the lives of at least five pro-Iranian militants on Sunday, according to Iraqi security sources.
The strike targeted a site utilized 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 revealed that the raid took place near the border of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.
While the official did not specify the entity responsible for the strike, a defence official in Baghdad attributed it to a drone targeting a position of the al-Nujaba group in the Dibis area.
The strike resulted in five casualties and five injuries, as confirmed by the Baghdad defence official.
In response, a US military official, speaking anonymously, acknowledged a “self-defence strike” against a drone launch site in the vicinity of Kirkuk, citing an “imminent threat.”
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose coalition of armed groups associated with Hashed al-Shaabi, released a statement announcing the deaths of “five martyrs.”
They claimed the fatalities occurred during clashes with “American occupation forces in Iraq.”
Iraqi police reported discovering debris, apparently from a drone, at the targeted site.
The incident unfolded a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani emphasized, during a call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Iraq’s rejection of any attacks on its territory.
Prime Minister al-Sudani also affirmed the government’s commitment to ensuring the safety of international coalition advisers present in Iraq.
The recent airstrike adds to the ongoing series of attacks in the region, with pro-Iranian groups targeting US forces in Iraq and Syria.
The escalation in hostilities comes amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, which began on October 7, contributing to heightened tensions across the region.
Pro-Iranian groups, particularly the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, have claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on US forces.
Late November witnessed deadly US strikes targeting pro-Iranian militants in response to repeated attacks on US troops.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas resulted in a temporary pause in these attacks, but the resumption on Friday raised concerns about potential regional escalation.
Washington has reported at least 76 attacks on its forces in Iraq and Syria since October 17, with rocket fire and drone strikes causing injuries to at least 60 US personnel.
The situation remains fluid, and the recent airstrike underscores the complex dynamics and challenges faced by stakeholders in the volatile region.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, several rockets targeted US and coalition forces deployed on a base in eastern Syria.
Fortunately, the attack did not result in casualties or damage, according to a US military official.
As events continue to unfold, the international community watches closely, wary of the potential for further escalations in an already tumultuous region.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members