Islamic State revival warning after US attack
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The latest US military action in Iraq has been condemned by President Barham Salih, who warned it could lead to a revival of the Islamic State terror group.
Overnight air strikes by the American military killed six people and injured 12 more.
The United States said it carried out the series of strikes on Thursday against an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq that it blamed for a rocket attack a day earlier which killed two American soldiers and a British soldier.
Iraq has denounced the overnight air strikes, describing them as a violation of sovereignty and a targeted aggression against the nation’s regular armed forces.
President Barham Salih said repeated such violations could cause Iraq to unravel into a failed state and revive the Islamic State militant group.
Long-standing antagonism between the United States and Iran have mostly played out on Iraqi soil in recent months.
“The pretext that this attack came as a response to the aggression that targeted the Taji base is a false pretext; one that leads to escalation and does not provide a solution,” Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said in a statement.
It said that as well as the six people killed, 12 people had been wounded and that infrastructure, weapons and equipment at targeted military sites were destroyed.
The Pentagon said the strikes targeted five weapons stores used by Kataib Hezbollah militia, including facilities housing arms used in past attacks on US-led coalition troops.
Official Iraqi casualty figures showed no paramilitary fighters had been killed. The military said three soldiers, two policemen and one civilian died and that four soldiers, two policemen, a civilian, and five militia men were injured.
The civilians killed and wounded were construction workers at an airport building site in the Shi’ite Muslim holy city of Kerbala, Iraqi religious authorities said.
Around 5,000 US troops remain in Iraq, most in an advisory capacity, as part of a wider international coalition formed to help Iraq drive back and defeat Islamic State militants.
But the Iraqi military said the new US air attack wen tagainst “any partnership” under the coalition. “It will have consequences that subject everyone to the most serious dangers.”
Iraq has suffered decades of war, sanctions and sectarian conflict, including the US-led invasion of 2003.
President Salih said Iraq’s security problems will be solved by the US supporting its government, not turning it into a battlefield for a proxy war.
He also warned that Islamic State might seize on any chaos.
“The repeated violations the state is being subjected to are a dangerous and deliberate weakening of its abilities especially at a time when Iraq faces unprecedented challenges on political, economic, financial, security, and health fronts,” Mr Salih said.
Iraq is grappling with anti-government unrest in which almost 500 people have been killed since October 1.