US retaliates with airstrikes after militants fire missile at Iraq air base used by American troops
Stars and Stripes November 21, 2023
WASHINGTON — The U.S. struck back with an AC-130 gunship and airstrikes after Iran-backed militants fired a missile Tuesday at American and coalition forces at an air base in western Iraq, U.S. officials said.
The attacks began when a close-range ballistic missile was fired Tuesday at al-Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, resulting in “several non-serious injuries and some minor damage to infrastructure, “ Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters at the Pentagon.
Singh said the AC-130 was airborne at the time of the attack and fired on a vehicle carrying the assailants.
The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said on X, formerly Twitter, that the AC-130 “maintained visual confirmation from the time of the [missile] launch to the time of engagement.”
“This strike resulted in several enemy casualties,” CENTCOM added.
Later Tuesday, CENTCOM reported it carried out “discrete, precision strikes” against two undisclosed facilities in Iraq. The statement linked the attacks to the missile strike at al-Asad but did not elaborate.
U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria have been attacked at least 66 times by militant groups since Hamas extremists breached Israeli defenses around Gaza, slaughtered about 1,200 men, women and children and took about 240 people hostage. Israel has responded with airstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza, killing more than 11,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
The U.S. still maintains forces in Iraq and Syria as part of operations against the Islamic State group and its allies, which U.S. officials say receive money, weapons and other support from Iran.
The U.S. has pledged support for Israel and has deployed more than 1,200 troops to the Middle East to deter other countries or militant groups from escalating the conflict.