KRG denies U.S. jets that targeted militia groups took off from Erbil airport

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Wednesday denied claims made by an Iraqi militia leader that U.S. fighter jets targeted positions belonging to the militia groups in Iraq and Syria took off from Erbil international airport.

KRG Spokesman Jotiar Adil said one of the leaders of Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, Ahmed al-Maksus, claimed that the U.S. military aircraft that targeted the militia groups in Iraq and Syria took off from Erbil airport.

“We reject these allegations because they are baseless,” Adil said in a statement. “In contrast, the attacks that targeted Erbil were carried out by outlaw groups, and now such statements have bad indications.”

Adil added that if any other attack is launched against Erbil, the groups which al-Maksus and his aides lead would be held responsible because “[those statements] pave the way for and are a pretext to target Erbil”.

On Sunday, the U.S. military said it targeted operational and weapon storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one in Iraq in response to drone attacks by the militia against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq.

Iraqi militia groups aligned with Iran in a statement named four members of the Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada faction they said were killed in the attack on the Syria-Iraq border. They vowed to retaliate.

The strikes came at the direction of U.S. President Joe Biden, the second time he has ordered retaliatory strikes against Iran-backed militia since taking office five months ago.

Biden last ordered limited strikes in Syria in February, that time in response to rocket attacks in Iraq.

The Pentagon said the facilities targeted were used by Iran-backed militia including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, according to Reuters.

One of the facilities targeted was used to launch and recover the drones, a defense official said.

The U.S. military carried out strikes with F-15 and F-16 aircraft, officials told Reuters.

Iraq’s government condemned the strikes on its territory and said it would “study all legal options” to prevent such action being repeated.

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