BAGHDAD (AFP) — U.S. airstrikes targeting pro-Iranian military factions in Iraq killed one civilian and five security personnel early Friday, the Iraqi military said in a preliminary toll.
Three of the dead were Iraqi soldiers and two were policemen, the military statement said, adding that 11 Iraqi fighters were also wounded, some of them critically.
The civilian was a cook working at an unfinished airport outside the city of Karbala, where another civilian was wounded in the raids.
The airport’s media chief Ghazwan Issawi confirmed the cook’s death and said the airport suffered material damage.
“Five missiles hit the administrative building at the airport and 18 cars were destroyed,” Issawi said. “We are waiting for security forces to come and begin their investigation.”
The airstrikes, which began around 1 a.m. local time (2200 GMT Thursday), hit five weapons storage facilities belonging to the Hashed al-Shaabi military network, according to the Pentagon.
It was in response to a rocket attack on an Iraqi base late Wednesday that killed two U.S. military personnel and one British soldier, which the U.S. blamed on hardline Hashed factions.
The attack was the 22nd since October on U.S. interests in Iraq, and by far the deadliest.
U.S. diplomatic offices have come under attack as well as the bases where the 5,200 U.S. troops in Iraq are stationed.
The Iraqi government condemned the rocket attack but civilian officials had yet to comment on the U.S. strikes more than 12 hours after they took place.
The military said the U.S. attack was a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty that would lead to more instability in a country already squeezed by spiraling tensions between its two main allies, Washington and Tehran.
“It leads to escalation and deterioration of the security situation in the country and exposes everyone to more risks and threats,” it said.
Iran responded Friday by warning President Trump against taking “dangerous actions.”
“The United States cannot blame others … for the consequences of its illegal presence in Iraq and the nation’s reaction to the assassination and killing of Iraqi commanders and fighters,” foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.
“Instead of dangerous actions and baseless accusations, Mr. Trump should reconsider the presence and behavior of his troops in the area.”
The United States said the airstrikes targeted five weapons facilities across Iraq.
Iran has always denied it backs Iraqi militias.
© Agence France-Presse