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US airstrikes in western Iraq escalate tensions, prompting denials and accusations


NEW DELHI: US airstrikes in western Iraq targeted pro-Iran groups on Saturday, causing at least 16 deaths, including civilians, and 23 injuries. Iraqi government spokesperson Bassem al-Awadi reported the incident, highlighting escalating tensions in the region.
The strikes hit “locations in the Akashat and Al-Qaim regions, including areas where our security forces are stationed”, Awadi said in a statement.
The United States carried out the strikes on Friday in retaliation for the killing of three US military personnel in a drone attack on a base close to Jordan’s border with Syria and Iraq.
In response to a drone attack near Jordan’s border with Syria and Iraq that resulted in the killing of three US military personnel, the United States conducted retaliatory strikes on Friday.
Washington blamed the unclaimed attack on the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose alliance of pro-Iran fighters opposed to US support for Israel in Gaza.
The unclaimed attack was attributed by Washington to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loosely connected coalition of pro-Iran fighters who oppose US backing for Israel in Gaza, while Tehran denied any links to the attack.
On Friday, a White House spokesperson said the United States had “warned the Iraqi government before the strikes”.
But Baghdad denied there had been any coordination with Washington prior to the bombings.
A spokesperson from the White House on Friday said that the United States had provided a warning to the Iraqi government ahead of the strikes. However, Baghdad refuted any claims of coordination with Washington before the bombings occurred.
“This aggressive air strike will push the security situation in Iraq and the region to the brink of the abyss,” the spokesman said.
Awadi condemned the use of Iraq’s territory as a “battleground for settling scores” and repeated his government’s call for the withdrawal of the US-led international anti-jihadist coalition in Iraq.
The coalition had “deviated from its assigned tasks and granted mandate,” he said, and was “endangering security and stability in Iraq”.
Awadi accused the United States of “deception and distortion of facts” and called the suggestion “an unfounded claim crafted to mislead international public opinion and evade legal responsibility” for what he said was a breach of international law.
As part of the 2014 coalition formed to combat the Islamic State group, approximately 2,500 US troops are stationed in Iraq, while about 900 are deployed in Syria. In recent months, over 165 drone and rocket attacks targeting coalition troops in Iraq and Syria have been recorded since mid-October. The majority of these attacks have been attributed to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.

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