US strikes on pro-Iran group in Iraq kill 25, sparking anger

Baghdad, Dec 30 (AFP/APP):US air strikes against a pro-Iran group in Iraq killed at least 25 fighters, a paramilitary umbrella said Monday, triggering anger in a country caught up in mounting tensions between Tehran and Washington.

The attacks on Sunday night saw US planes hit several bases belonging to the Hezbollah brigades, one of the most radical factions of Hashed al-Shaabi, a Tehran-backed Iraqi paramilitary coalition.

The strikes “killed 25 and wounded 51, including commanders and fighters, and the toll could yet rise,” according to the Hashed, which holds major sway in Iraq. It said it was still pulling victims from the rubble of bases near Al-Qaim, an Iraqi district bordering Syria, on Monday.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said the US had “shown its firm support for terrorism and its neglect for the independence and sovereignty of countries” by carrying out the attacks.
Washington — itself a key ally of Baghdad — must accept the consequences of its “illegal act”, Mousavi added.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper described the attacks against the Hezbollah brigades — which hit three locations in Iraq and two in neighbouring Syria — as “successful”, and did not rule out further military action against Iran-backed militias.

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