On Sunday, Israel finally got help from the US military in the battle against Iran and its numerous proxies in the Middle East when American warplanes fired more than 30 missiles at 5 bases of the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia in both Iraq and Syria.
US F-15 Strike Eagles bombed weapon depots and command centers of Kata’ib Hezbollah (meaning: battalion of the party of God) killing 25 members of the militia which is part of the Iranian-backed al-Hashd al-Shaabi umbrella organization of predominantly Shiite militias in Iraq.
Kata’ib Hezbollah is believed getting its orders from Qassem Soleimani the crafty commander of the Quds Force, the branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) which is tasked with exporting the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran.
The American attack took place after Kata’ib Hezbollah on Friday attacked a US military facility in the vicinity of the Kurdish city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq killing an American contractor and wounding four US soldiers.
Jonathan Hoffman the US Deputy Secretary of Defense said that the attack was a response to “repeated Kata’ib Hezbollah attacks on Iraqi bases that host Operation Inherent Resolve coalition forces” a reference to the US-led international coalition of forces that fought ISIS in both Syria and Iraq.
The attack on US personnel in Iraq was anticipated for a long time after Kata’ib Hezbollah and other al-Hashd al-Shaabi militias demanded that all US forces leave Iraq thereby paving the way for the completion of the so-called Iranian land-bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea and the Israeli Golan Heights.
When the Americans didn’t give in Kata’ib Hezbollah and other militias belonging to al-Hashd al-Shaabi started to launch missiles and mortars at US facilities in Iraq such as the American embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
The Administration of President Donald J. Trump has warned Iran repeatedly that any attack on US personnel in Iraq and Syria would have grave consequences but until now the US military remained more or less passive in the wake of repeated Iranian provocations especially in the Gulf region.
Just last week the Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi seemed to lament the American passivity in light of Iran’s increasing aggression in the Middle East.
During a security conference in Herzliya Kohavi was unusually blunt over the war against Iran when he said the following: “it would be better if we weren’t the only ones responding to them” meaning Iran.
“In recent years, Iran has changed its policies and is much more active, and there’s no response, there’s no retaliation, there are no reprisals,” Kohavi said after making clear he was talking about the massive Iranian attack on Saudi oil facilities early September.
Israel’s military has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian weapon transports in Syria and Iraq and has repeatedly taken action against any Iranian attempt to entrench itself on the Syrian Golan Heights.
“We won’t allow Iran to establish a military presence in (Syria), or even in Iraq,”Kohavi warned while he also made clear Israel would continue to deprive Iran’s proxies of guided missiles.
“Iran is continuing to develop missiles that can reach Israeli territory. This is somewhat flying under the radar,” the IDF Chief of Staff said in another apparent reference to the American passivity.
The IDF Chief also made clear that Israel is now actively preparing for war with Iran and warned the Israeli home front that the “next war” would see “heavy fire” directed at the Israeli home front.
“I’m looking people in the eye, and saying, there will be heavy fire. We have to recognize this and we have to prepare for this,” Kohavi said.
It came therefore as no surprise that the Israeli government reacted to the American bombardment on Kata’ib Hezbollah with satisfaction.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz even said on Monday that the US airstrikes against Kata’ib Hezbollah were “a turning point in regional reality against the conduct of Iran and its puppets.”
Katz added that “if the Iranians make a mistake in understanding the essence and power of the United States, they will absorb blows that they have never absorbed.”
He could be right since Trump apparently is preparing for additional strikes against the Quds Force and its “puppets” as Katz called the Iranian various proxies.
On Sunday night Trump held consultations with national security advisers and was reportedly presented with “expanded military options” against Iran and its proxies.
Mark Esper, the US Secretary of Defense said after the meeting with Trump that “additional actions” could be necessary to deter Iran and its allies in Syria and Iraq.
Iran, meanwhile, condemned the American action against Kata’ib Hezbollah as “terror” and warned that the US “must accept responsibility for the consequences of this illegal act.”
According to Kata’ib Hezbollah the “aggression of evil American ravens” will have dire consequences for the US.
“Our battle with America and its mercenaries is now open to all possibilities, We have no alternative today other than confrontation and there is nothing that will prevent us from responding to this crime,” a statement by the outlawed (in US) terror organization read.
Soleimani has apparently now gotten the message and has reportedly ordered al-Hashd al-Shaabi to remove its rockets from military bases.
The Arab news site Al-khura reported, citing an Iraqi official that the Iranian proxies were ordered to hide ballistic missiles and their launchers in residential areas in Iraq.
The official reportedly said that the order came from a close aide to Soleimani who advised al-Hashd al-Shaabi to use civilian trucks to distribute the missiles in populated areas in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.