The US says it has carried out military strikes in Iraq and Syria targeting a militia blamed for an attack that killed an American contractor, the AP reports. US forces conducted "precision defensive strikes" against five sites of Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Iraqi militia, Defense Department official Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement. The US blames the militia for a rocket barrage Friday that killed a US defense contractor at a military compound near Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. Officials said attackers fired as many as 30 rockets in Friday's assault. Hoffman said the strikes carried out by the US will limit the group's ability to carry out future attacks on Americans and their Iraqi government allies.
The Defense Department gave no details immediately on how the strikes were conducted. They hit three of the militia's sites in Iraq and two in Syria, including weapon storage facilities and the militia's command and control bases, Hoffman said. The Jerusalem Post looks at the tangled history behind this, including over a dozen attacks by similar Shi'ite militias on bases that house US forces. Such pro-Iranian groups are part of Iraqi security units known as Popular Mobilization Units, which were assembled to help Iraq battle ISIS. In 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged the groups to return home since the war on ISIS had ended, but they stayed around, and are accused of killing over 500 protesters amid Iraq's months-long political crisis.
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