U.S. strikes Iran-backed forces in Iraq, Syria; Japan sends warships to the Gulf

FPI / January 2, 2020


The United States will continue to confront Iran and its proxies for its attacks on American forces in the Middle East, Trump administration officials warned.

From left, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Gen. Mark Milley. / Reuters

The warning came after U.S. forces carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria on Dec. 29.

“We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after briefing President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

U.S. F-15 fighter jets bombed five bases used by Kataib Hizbullah, a pro-Iranian Shi’ite Muslim terror group which straddles the boundary between Syria and Iraq, and is allied with the Lebanese terrorist group Hizbullah.

The five targets struck included three in Iraq and two in Syria, U.S. officials said.

Twenty-five Iran-backed fighters were reported dead in the strikes in Iraq alone, including four of the group’s leaders. In addition, at least 55 were reportedly wounded in the strikes in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Japan said it will send a warship and patrol planes to protect Japanese ships in the Middle East. Japan gets 90 percent of its crude oil imports from the Middle East.

Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe briefed visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tokyo’s plan to send naval forces to the Gulf.

The planned operation is set to cover high seas in the Gulf of Oman, the northern Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but not the Strait of Hormuz, the cabinet-approved document showed.

Under the plan, a helicopter-equipped destroyer and two P-3C patrol planes will be dispatched for information-gathering aimed at ensuring safe passage for Japanese vessels through the region.

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