The airstrikes came after the Erbil Air Force base was attacked early today.
US military forces conducted several airstrikes on facilities in Iraq on Christmas night, according to reports released by the Department of Defense.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the attacks were carried out at the direction of President Joe Biden and in response to attacks by groups against coalition forces in the region. One of those attacks was carried out earlier on December 25 at the Erbil Air Base, resulting in the wounding of three US personnel. According to a statement from the Secretary of Defense, one service member is in critical condition as a result of the Air Force strike.
“My prayers are with the brave Americans who were wounded,” Austin said in his statement.
“Let me be clear — the president and I will not hesitate to take any action necessary to protect America, our troops and our interests,” his statement continued. “There is no higher priority. While we do not seek to escalate conflict in the region, we are determined and fully prepared to take further necessary steps to protect our people and our facilities.”
According to CENTCOM's initial assessments, the target facilities were destroyed and there were no signs of civilian casualties.
“These strikes are intended to hold accountable elements directly responsible for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and Syria and reduce their ability to continue attacks,” US Central Command commander General Michael Eric Guerrilla said in a statement. “We will always protect our forces.”
National Security Council spokesman Adrian Watson said, “The president was immediately briefed on the attack this morning, and he directed the Department of Defense to prepare options for responding to those responsible.”
In a later call with Sec. In Austin, Biden ordered strikes against three sites used by Hezbollah and affiliated groups, focusing specifically on unmanned aerial drone operations.
“The president does not place a higher priority than the safety of American personnel who serve in harm's way. If these attacks continue, the United States will act at the time and in the manner we choose,” Watson's statement said.
“Total coffee junkie. Tv ninja. Unapologetic problem solver. Beer expert.”