Biden Orders Retaliatory Strikes in Iraq

U.S. Escalates Military Response to Protect Troops in Iraq

by Nouman Rasool
Biden Orders Retaliatory Strikes in Iraq
© Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

In a decisive move, President Joe Biden authorized the U.S. military to conduct strikes against Iranian-backed militia groups in response to a drone attack in Northern Iraq that left three American servicemembers injured. This development, unfolding in the complex geopolitical landscape of the Middle East, underscores the ongoing tension between U.S.

forces and Iranian-supported factions in the region. The attack, which took place earlier Monday, saw one U.S. troop member sustaining critical injuries. Responsibility for this hostile act was claimed by Kataib Hezbollah, a group operating under a consortium of Iranian-backed militants.

This incident prompted an immediate reaction from the White House, with President Biden, currently at Camp David for the Christmas period, receiving a comprehensive briefing and directing the Pentagon to formulate a retaliatory strategy.

Biden's Decisive Counterstrike

In a swift response, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, alongside Biden's national security team, proposed various countermeasures. The President, after evaluating these options, commanded strikes on three sites known to be utilized by Kataib Hezbollah and its affiliates.

These U.S. military actions, executed around 4:45 a.m. on Tuesday in Iraq, signify a robust stance by the Biden administration against threats to American personnel. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson emphasized the administration's commitment to safeguarding U.S.

forces, stating, "The President places no higher priority than the protection of American personnel serving in harm’s way." She further warned that the U.S. is prepared to act decisively if such attacks persist. This latest confrontation is part of a broader pattern of mounting hostilities involving American forces in the region, tracing back to the Oct.

7 Hamas attack on Israel, which ignited the devastating Gaza war. The U.S. has pointed to Iran's support for Hamas and its role in escalating violence through its network of proxies, including Yemen’s Houthis, who have targeted commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea.

While the Biden administration strives to contain the Israel-Hamas conflict and avert a broader regional crisis, its calibrated approach to retaliation has sparked criticism from some corners, notably Republican lawmakers.

This balancing act reflects the administration's cautious strategy in a region where the U.S. maintains a significant military presence, primarily focused on training Iraqi forces and countering the remnants of the Islamic State group, as well as supporting anti-IS efforts in Syria.

Despite numerous attacks on U.S. troops since Oct. 7, attributed to Iran-backed groups, there have yet to be any fatalities, indicating the high-risk environment American forces continue to operate in.