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Fresh US air strikes kill five pro-Iran fighters in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AFP) – United States (US) fighter jets struck two targets in Iraq early yesterday killing five pro-Iran fighters in retaliation for repeated attacks on US troops in Iraq by Iran-backed groups, US and Iraqi sources said.

The US military “conducted discrete, precision strikes against two facilities in Iraq”, US Central Command said on X.

“The strikes were in direct response to the attacks against US and coalition forces by Iran and Iran-backed groups,” the post added, and come the day after a previous US air strike targeted Iranian-backed fighters in Iraq.

An Iraqi security force official said yesterday’s strikes killed five fighters of the Hezbollah Brigades, a pro-Iran group within Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) force. A Hashed official confirmed the death toll. Yesterday’s attacks were carried out by US fighter aircraft on two facilities south of Baghdad, a Pentagon source said on condition of anonymity.

Hours earlier, a warplane struck the vehicle of Iranian-backed fighters after they had fired a short-range ballistic missile at US and allied personnel, the Pentagon said. It was the first time the US has announced a strike on Iran-backed forces in Iraq since they launched a flurry of attacks against US targets in response to Washington’s support for Israel.

Washington has targetted Iran-backed groups in neighbouring Syria, however, carrying out strikes on three occasions in recent weeks.

Since the Gaza war erupted on October 7, US forces deployed in Iraq and Syria have been attacked at least 66 times, most recently on Tuesday, according to Pentagon officials.