Following a 27 December rocket attack against an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk that hosts U.S. forces, the Pentagon confirmed that “U.S. forces have conducted precision defensive strikes against five Kataeb Hizbollah facilities in Iraq and Syria that will degrade Kataeb Hizbollah's ability to conduct future attacks against OIR (Operation Inherent Resolve) coalition forces”. Asserting that “KH has a strong linkage with Iran’s Qods force and has repeatedly received lethal aid and other support from Iran that it has used to attack OIR coalition forces”, a senior U.S. defence official underscored that “the U.S. and its coalition partners fully respect Iraqi sovereignty, and support a strong and independent Iraq. The U.S., however, will not be deterred from exercising its right of self-defence”. The statement further emphasised that “Iran and their Kataeb Hizbollah proxy forces must cease their attacks on U.S. and coalition forces, and respect Iraq's sovereignty, to prevent additional defensive actions by U.S. forces”.
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