A US air strike killed five Iran-backed Iraqi militants near the northern city of Kirkuk as they prepared to launch explosive projectiles at American forces.
A US military official confirmed a "self-defense strike on an imminent threat" that targeted a drone staging site near Kirkuk on Sunday afternoon.
A statement by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group representing several Iraqi armed factions with close ties to Tehran, said five of its members had been killed, and vowed retaliation against American forces.The group had claimed several attacks against US forces on Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, the US military official said that American and international forces were attacked with multiple rockets at the Rumalyn Landing Zone in northeastern Syria, but there were no casualties or damage to infrastructure.
Iraqi armed groups have claimed more than 70 such attacks against US forces since October 17 over Washington's backing of Israel in its bombardment of Gaza.
The war, initiated by the Hamas invasion on October 7, resulted in at least 1,200, mostly civilians losing their lives, and an additional 240 taken hostage. Retaliatory attacks have left over 15,000 dead in Gaza, with hundreds of thousands displaced. Israel pounded the enclave to uproot the Islamist group, which has made the war exceedingly bloody hiding deep among the civilian population and underneath the coastal sliver’s non-military facilities.
In November, the US launched two series of strikes in Iraq against Iran-aligned armed groups who had engaged in attacks against American forces. The strikes killed at least 10 militants who were identified both as members of shadowy militia Kataeb Hezbollah and of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces, an official security institution composed mainly of Shiite Muslim armed groups.