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US air strikes welcomed by Bahrain, condemned by Iran 

December 30, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Bahrain has expressed its support for the air strikes carried out by the US yesterday against the Kataib Hezbollah (KH) facilities in Iraq and neighbouring Syria. The announcement was made in a tweet by the Bahrain Foreign Ministry.

The ministry’s official webpage described the US strikes as a response to “repeated terrorist attacks” by the KH, which is aligned with Iran and forms part of the Hashd Al-Shaabi umbrella group of paramilitaries that fought against Daesh. “The Kingdom of Bahrain lauds the strategic role of the United States of America in combatting terrorist groups in the region. It further reiterates its support for all efforts and measure taken by the US to preserve regional and international peace and security.”

READ: Trump aides call US strikes on Iraq and Syria ‘successful,’ warn of potential further action

America conducted the “defensive” aerial attacks against the group in response to the killing of a US civilian contractor in a rocket attack on a military base in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, which also left four US service personnel and two Iraqi soldiers wounded. Targets included the headquarters of the Hashd Al-Shaabi’s 45th and 46th Brigades near the western Qaim district on the border with Syria; at least 25 fighters are believed to have been killed, including a commander.

Reuters quoted senior commander Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, known by his alias Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes, as saying that, “The blood of the martyrs will not be in vain and our response will be very tough on the American forces in Iraq.”

Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi also voiced condemnation over the US attack as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a “dangerous escalation that threatens the security of Iraq and the region.” The KH forms an integrated part of the Iraqi security forces, under the direct command of the Prime Minister.

The group was formed in 2003 during the US invasion and occupation of Iraq and have a history of resisting the occupation forces. It is currently the only Iraqi Shia militia that is designated as a terrorist organisation by the US government. Israel recently claimed that it would not allow Iran to entrench itself in Iraq through the Hashd Al-Shaabi, which was established in response to a fatwa by Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to combat Daesh.

Iran condemned the air strikes as “terrorism”. The official website of the KH also denounced America’s “heinous crime” of violating Iraq’s sovereignty and issued calls for the expulsion of the US from the country.

There are believed to be approximately 5,000 US troops still in Iraq, despite a withdrawal in December 2011 under the previous administration.

READ: US civilian contractor killed in Iraq base rocket attack-officials