People looking at rubble of destroyed building (© AP Images)
Kataeb Hezbollah fighters inspect the destruction of their headquarters in Al-Qa'im, Iraq, in the aftermath of a U.S. airstrike on December 29. (© AP Images)

Defensive U.S. airstrikes against Iran-backed militants in Iraq and Syria demonstrate that the United States will respond to the Iranian regime’s aggression wherever it threatens U.S. citizens or interests.

The December 29 strikes responded to militants’ repeated attacks on a coalition base, including a December 27 rocket attack that killed a U.S. civilian contractor and injured four U.S. soldiers and Iraqi personnel.

The U.S. ”will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy,” U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo told reporters December 29 after the strikes on five locations in Syria and Iraq.

“This was an Iranian-backed rogue militia acting to deny the Iraqi people their basic sovereignty,” Pompeo said December 30. He said the militant group cooperates with Iran’s regime to spread terrorism in the Middle East.

The militia on December 27 launched as many as 30 rockets at a base supporting the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The coalition’s destruction of the ISIS caliphate in March has allowed 4.3 million Iraqi civilians to return home since April 2015 and liberated more than 110,000 square kilometers from the group’s control. In October, coalition forces killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Since September 2018, the Trump administration has made clear it will not tolerate attacks on U.S. citizens, its military, or its allies. In fact, just two weeks ago, Pompeo issued a warning that if any Iranian proxies harm Americans or U.S. allies, they will be answered with a decisive U.S. response.

When Pompeo declared in a speech in May 2018 that all Iranian-commanded forces must leave Syria, he meant it.

The Iranian regime, through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Quds Force, has spent billions fighting proxy wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, while the people of Iran face a collapsing economy and rising prices.

The U.S. stands with the Iraqi people, who are tired of endemic corruption from the political class. The Iraqi people do not want to be dominated by the Ayatollah and his cronies who continue to violate their sovereignty with attacks on Iraqi military bases that also host invited coalition forces.