Discussing 12 March U.S. strikes against five Kataeb Hizbollah sites in Iraq, which followed a rocket attack against Camp Taji that killed three coalition members, CENTCOM commander Kenneth McKenzie stated that “these defensive strikes were designed to destroy Iranian-supplied advanced conventional weapons… I would caution Iran and its proxies from attempting a response”. McKenzie added that “we do believe that behind Kataeb Hizbollah ultimately is the state of Iran. And the state of Iran is very much aware that we hold them responsible for what Kataeb Hizbollah does”. He further assessed that “now people know that we're not going to – we're not going to tolerate these direct attacks on American or coalition service members, and we're willing and able to respond”. McKenzie also posited that “the threat remains very high… they [ie, Iranians] are actively seeking ways to achieve destabilisation that would allow them to escape the strictures of the maximum pressure campaign”, adding that “perhaps coronavirus even increases [stress and pressure] on them”. He also confirmed that “we have put the preparatory material in place that allows us to establish Patriot positions inside Iraq”.
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