The U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, emphasised that 29 December U.S. strikes against Kataeb Hizbollah bases in Iraq and Syria constituted “a defensive action” against a group Hook characterised as “an Iranian-backed rogue militia”. Asserting that “we’ve already seen, just in the past two months alone, eleven attacks on bases inside Iraq that are hosting coalition forces”, Hook argued that “the last thing the U.S. is looking for is kinetic action in the Middle East… But we’ve also made clear that we will not tolerate attacks against U.S. citizens, our military or our partners and allies in the region”. He further assessed that “Iran is currently in a state of panicked aggression. The regime understands very clearly the kind of economic pressure they’re under, and they also know that it’s not sustainable. And so they are lashing out”. Another senior U.S. official noted with respect to the 29 December strikes that the targets “on the Syrian side of the border were, I think even more significant in many ways, although I’m not going to get into why”.
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