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U.S. air strike in Iraq lays bare Iran influence

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on December 30, 2019 - Duration: 01:44s

U.S. air strike in Iraq lays bare Iran influence

An American air strike has killed or wounded scores of members of an Iran-backed militia that forms part of Iraq's security forces.

Baghdad says it will have "dangerous consequences." The U.S. blames the group for the killing of a government contractor.

Matthew Larotonda reports.

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U.S. air strike in Iraq lays bare Iran influence

The American air strikes in Iraq and Syria on Sunday (December 29) that targeted a powerful militia - a militia backed by Iran -- have killed or wounded scores of its members according to Reuters sources, and lays bare a crisis for Iraq's government, because those fighters were formally part of Baghdad's own armed forces.

The prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, has condemned the strikes.

He says it will have dangerous consequences.

The militia group's supporters in parliament and religious establishment are calling it an attack on the country's sovereignty.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: "There are American lives at risk, and today what we did was take a decisive response." Washington says the strikes were revenge for the death of an American civilian contractor in a rocket attack at a joint U.S.-Iraqi military base, blamed on the group.

The fighters killed were part of a coalition known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.

The PMF are veterans of the campaign to defeat Islamic State and are part of Iraq's security apparatus, but are also a big proxy of Iran.

The recent violent unrest that's rocked Iraq was largely spurred by protest over the influence of such militias in Iraqi forces.

A PMF commander is vowing retaliation for the killing of its members and Iran claims there is no evidence the group played any role in the attack on the military base.

In Moscow on Monday (December 30), Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif appeared alongside his Russian counterpart to condemn the air strikes.

He says the U.S. is drowning the region in, quote, a "bucket of blood."

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