US forces respond after attack at Iraq base, officials say

U.S. forces Tuesday hit a militant base in Iraq with an AC-130 gunship after Iranian-backed groups attacked American troops in the country this week in the latest tit-for-tat exchange in the Middle East.

U.S. Central Command said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that the AC-130 strike resulted in several casualties. Officials said the hit was in response to a missile attack on American positions at al-Asad Airbase in Iraq on Monday.

Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters the Iranian-backed militant attack caused several minor injuries and some damage to the compound.

She also said the militants were identified because the AC-130 gunship was already up in the air and found the site of the missile launch.

The Pentagon’s updated numbers show U.S. forces have been attacked 66 times in the Middle East since Oct. 17, shortly after the Israel-Hamas war broke out, with 32 attacks in Iraq and 34 in Syria.

U.S. troops have also clashed with Iranian-backed Houthi militants near Yemen since the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7.

Not including the missile attack Monday, 62 American service members have been injured so far, though the injuries have all been minor.

The U.S. has struck Iranian-backed targets four times in retaliation for the attacks, including three in Syria, targeting storage facilities and command centers operated by Iran and its proxy groups.

But the Biden administration has faced questions about why deterrence is failing in the Middle East. Washington believes Iranian-backed groups are seizing on unrest in the region.

Singh on Tuesday said the U.S. is “hitting them where it hurts,” referring to the militant groups.

“We are hitting weapons storage facilities and completely destroying them so they are no longer of use,” she said. “We feel very confident … in the targets that we have selected.”

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