DOD casts doubt on Iran-backed militia’s claim to halt strikes on US troops: ‘actions speak louder than words’

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An Iran-backed militia group in Iraq says it is suspending attacks on U.S. troops after a drone attack killed three soldiers early Sunday, but the Department of Defense is casting doubt on those claims. 

The Iraq-based Kataeb Hezbollah said Tuesday it was suspending ‘military and security operations against the occupying forces to avoid any embarrassment for the Iraqi government.’ 

The group is one of multiple Iranian proxies in the region that are believed responsible for carrying out attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq, Syria, and, most recently, Jordan over the past several months. The groups say the attacks are in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel in its ongoing offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza and the mounting death toll of Palestinian civilians. 

Since Oct. 17, there have been at least 165 attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan. Of these, 66 were in Iraq, 98 were in Syria, and one was in Jordan. Meanwhile, Houthi militants stationed in Yemen have been firing upon commercial vessels in the Red Sea – prompting retaliatory strikes from the U.S. and its allies. 

Per Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin, Kataeb Hezbollah said it would support Palestinians in Gaza in other ways and told its fighters not to respond even if the U.S. were to strike. 

Asked for his reaction to the group’s message, Pentagon Press Secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said, ‘actions speak louder than words.’ 

‘I don’t think that we could be any more clear that we have called on the Iranian proxy groups to stop their attacks. They have not. And so we will respond in a time and manner of our choosing,’ he said. ‘When I say, ‘actions speak louder than words, there have been three attacks – to my knowledge – since the 28th of January. And I’ll just leave it there.’ 

President Biden has faced mounting pressure to respond after three U.S. soldiers were killed and more than 40 were injured in an overnight drone strike at a base in Jordan near the Syrian border. 

Biden blamed the attack on Iran-backed militias and vowed that the U.S. ‘shall respond.’ At the same time, administration officials have repeatedly said the U.S. has no desire to escalate tensions with Iran. 

The attack marked a significant escalation of violence in the onslaught of attacks since Oct. 17 as it was the first time U.S. troops had been killed by enemy fire. 

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