AC-130 Strikes Iranian-Backed Militants Following Missile Attack
A U.S. military AC-130J Ghostrider attacked an Iran-backed militant group after the group used a ballistic missile to attack U.S. and coalition forces on Al-Asad Airbase, Iraq, according to the deputy pentagon press secretary.
The ballistic missile attack resulted in non-serious injuries to U.S. and coalition forces, as well as minor damage to infrastructure on the installation, said Sabrina Singh during a briefing at the Pentagon.
"Immediately following the attack, a U.S. military AC-130 aircraft in the area conducted a self-defence strike against an Iranian-backed militia vehicle and a number of Iranian-backed militia personnel involved in this attack," she said. "This self-defence strike resulted in some hostile fatalities."
Singh said the AC-130 gunship was able to mount a response so quickly because it was already in the air at the time of the missile attack.
"We were able to identify the point of origin of these attacks because an AC-130 was up already in the area and therefore was able to respond," Singh said. "They were able to take action because they saw the militants. They were able to keep an eye on the movement of these militants as they moved into their vehicles and that's why they were able to respond."
Since Oct. 17, U.S. forces have been attacked 66 times in both Iraq and Syria, said Singh. She also said this is the first time a ballistic missile similar to the one used in this attack has been employed.
Since the start of those attacks in October, the U.S. has mounted three other strikes, Singh said. But those strikes were pre-planned and targeted specific facilities and infrastructure known to be used by militias affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. This most recent U.S. response was different in that it was unplanned.
"These groups have targeted our forces [in] both Iraq and Syria," Singh said. "We feel right now that we've taken appropriate action to decimate some of their facilities and some of their weapons ... We always reserve the right to respond at a time and place of our choosing."