Senior DOD Official Describes Rationale for Attack on Quds Force Commander
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued Jan. 3, 2020)
A Marine stands guard atop a building at the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, Jan. 3, 2020. (DoD photo)
President Donald J. Trump last night directed, and the Defense Department subsequently launched, an airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force, a senior DOD official said during a news teleconference.

"He was the commander directly responsible for organizing and directing multiple attacks against Americans in the region, including [Kataeb Hezbollah] attacks we've seen over the last several months," the official said today.

Kataeb Hezbollah is a group with links to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force.

Soleimani, was actively and consistently developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region, the official added.

This U.S. attack was carried out in a manner that minimized collateral damage. It was designed to defend American lives and to prevent further bloodshed, the official noted.

The official mentioned there has been a steady increase over the past year in attacks by Shiite militia groups against bases hosting U.S. and coalition forces, the official said. "The attacks have significantly intensified over the past two months," the official said.

On Dec. 27, U.S. forces in Iraq were attacked near Kirkuk by Kataeb Hezbollah the official continued. The attack — in which 31 rockets were fired — killed one American civilian contractor and injured four American service members, as well as two members of the Iraqi security forces.

As a result, the U.S. military responded and took defensive actions by striking Kataeb Hezbollah bases in western Iraq and western Syria, the official said.

"We have been very clear with Iran and our Iraqi partners that these increasing attacks need to stop and that we would hold Iran directly responsible for any harm to U.S. personnel," the official concluded.

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CJTF-OIR Statement on the Ongoing Defeat Daesh Mission
(Source: Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve; issued Jan. 5, 2020)
SOUTHWEST ASIA --- Our first priority is protecting all Coalition personnel committed to the defeat of Daesh. Repeated rocket attacks over the last two months by elements of Kata'ib Hezbollah have caused the death of Iraqi Security Forces personnel and a U.S. civilian.

As a result, we are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops. This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review.

We remain resolute as partners of the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people that have welcomed us into their country to help defeat ISIS. We remain ready to return our full attention and efforts back to our shared goal of ensuring the lasting defeat of Daesh.

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