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Iraqi Militia Vows Revenge to US Airstrikes


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (R) listen as Secretary of Defense Mark Esper delivers a statement, at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, in Palm Beach, Florida, Dec. 29, 2019.

An Iran-backed militia threatened revenge Monday in response to U.S. airstrikes against its positions in Iraq and Syria, which killed at least 25 people.

The warning from Kataeb Hezbollah came as Iraq's government called the attack a "flagrant violation" of its sovereignty. The Iraqi government said it would reconsider its relationship with U.S. forces in the country following Sunday's airstrikes.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the strikes show that the United States will not tolerate actions by Iran that jeopardize American lives.

The U.S. strikes against the Iranian-backed Kataeb Hezbollah militia were a response to a rocket attack Friday on an Iraqi military base in northern Iraq that killed a U.S. defense contractor.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed the airstrikes in comments to reporters late Sunday. He said U.S. fighter jets hit three Kataeb Hezbollah targets in western Iraq and two others in eastern Syria.

Esper identified the targets as weapons storage and command and control facilities.

Iran's foreign minister Monday condemned the U.S. attacks as violating Iraqi sovereignty and amounting to an act of terrorism.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Monday that the U.S. air strikes on Iraq and Syria were unacceptable and counterproductive.

Esper spoke Sunday from the Florida resort where President Donald Trump is spending a holiday break. Also there to brief the president was Pompeo, who said the Iraqi base hit Friday has seen multiple attacks.

"What we did was take a decisive response that makes clear what President Trump has said for months and months and months, which is that we will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy," he said.

Kataeb Hezbollah is part of the state-sanctioned militias operating in Iraq know as the Popular Mobilization Forces.