In response to the deadly rockets against a Coalition base in Iraq, the U.S. military conducted targeted strikes against an Iranian-backed militia believed to be behind the attack.
According to the Department of Defense (DoD), the airstrikes targeted five weapon storage facilities of the Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), a Shia paramilitary terror group. KH is believed to be behind the rocket attack that killed two American and one British warfighter and wounded 14 more.
The U.S. Killed in Action were Air Force Staff Sergeant Marshal D. Roberts and U.S. Army Specialist Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias. The British KIA is Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon.
The destroyed KH facilities contained weapons that were used to attack Coalition troops in Iraq. The question, however, is why those facilities hadn’t been destroyed previously as this isn’t the first time KH attacks U.S. and Coalition targets. Indeed, it was another KH rocket attack in late December that precipitated the U.S.-Iran crisis at the beginning of the year. Then, the KH attack had killed an American civilian contractor and wounded several warfighters. A valid explanation is the delicate power play within Iraq. Iraqi politics have been quite tumultuous since last fall. And Iran’s influence in Baghdad is significant.
The Navy is keeping two aircraft carriers in the region as tensions with Iran seem to be rekindling.
CENTCOM released the following video that depicts an aerial Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) over the Al-Musayyib terrorist weapons storage facility.
Lieutenant General Pat White, the commanding officer of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement that “the international military coalition is capable and credible because of warriors like Juan, Brodie, and Marshal. They volunteered to serve the United States and United Kingdom to improve their lives and help keep the world free from ISIS terrorism. Our fallen comrades have a legacy that will never be forgotten.”
Staff Sgt Roberts was assigned to 219th Engineering Installation Squadron of the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing. Spc. Covarrubias was assigned to 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Lance Cpl. Gillon was a Combat Medical Technician (CMT) assigned to the reserve unit Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry.
The British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that “from the warm testimonies of those who served with her, it’s clear that LCpl Gillon was held in the highest regard and was a shining example of what our Armed Forces and Reserves stand for, inspiring those around her and always putting others first. My thoughts go out to her loved ones at this incredibly difficult time and we will ensure they receive all the necessary support.”