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US military launches new round of airstrikes in Iraq, Yemen

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower conducts flight operations in response to increased Iranian-backed Houthi malign behaviour in the Red Sea, 12 January 2024. Photo: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Elmore

The US military has conducted strikes against military targets in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen and Iranian-backed groups in Iraq.

The US military has conducted strikes against military targets in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen and Iranian-backed groups in Iraq.

US military forces conducted “necessary and proportionate” precision strikes, with the approval of US President Joe Biden, on three facilities used by the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia group and other Iran-affiliated groups in Iraq, according to a 23 January statement from US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III.

The strikes are allegedly in response to escalatory attacks against US and Coalition personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-sponsored militias.

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“I am grateful for both the skill and professionalism with which our personnel planned and conducted these strikes and the continued efforts of our troops on the ground as they work with regional partners to further dismantle and degrade ISIS,” the US Secretary of Defense said.

“The President and I will not hesitate to take necessary action to defend them and our interests. We do not seek to escalate conflict in the region. We are fully prepared to take further measures to protect our people and our facilities. We call on these groups and their Iranian sponsors to immediately cease these attacks.”

In addition to the Iraq strikes, the US and United Kingdom launched a second round of eight defensive strikes against military targets in Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen on 22 January. Support was provided by Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands.

Houthi targets included an underground storage site, missile and air surveillance locations. The joint strike campaign originally began on 11 January against command-and-control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities, and air defence radar systems.

“These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade and the lives of innocent mariners, and are in response to a series of illegal, dangerous, and destabilising Houthi actions since our coalition strikes on January 11, including anti-ship ballistic missile and unmanned aerial system attacks that struck two US-owned merchant vessels,” according to a joint statement published by Australia, Bahrain, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States on 22 January.

“The Houthis’ now more than 30 attacks on international and commercial vessels since mid-November constitute an international challenge.

“Recognising the broad consensus of the international community, we again acted as part of a coalition of like-minded countries committed to upholding the rules-based order, protecting freedom of navigation and international commerce, and holding the Houthis accountable for their illegal and unjustifiable attacks on mariners and commercial shipping.

“Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea, but let us reiterate our warning to Houthi leadership: we will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways in the face of continued threats.”

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