CENTCOM announced that “in response to attacks by the Iranian-backed militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), including the attack on al-Assad Airbase in western Iraq on 20 January… CENTCOM forces conducted unilateral airstrikes against three facilities used by Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia group and other Iran-affiliated groups in Iraq. These strikes targeted KH headquarters, storage and training locations for rocket, missile and one-way attack UAV capabilities”. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin underscored that “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”. The Iraqi prime minister’s office characterised the attack as “clear determination to harm security and stability in Iraq”, describing the targets as “locations of Iraqi military units from the army and the Popular Mobilisation Forces”. The same day, there were reports of drone attacks against the Ain al-Assad base.
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