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US launches airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militia in Iraq, Syria

The U.S. launched five airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, the Trump administration announced Sunday. 

The U.S. launched F-15 Strike Eagles against five targets associated with Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia group, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Biden nets military family endorsements | Final debate features North Korea exchange | Judge refuses to dismiss sexual assault case against top general Israel signals it won't oppose F-35 sale to UAE Our troops in the Sinai are a small force with outsized importance MORE told reporters Sunday at a briefing from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. 

“The strikes were successful,” Esper said. “The pilots and aircraft returned back to base safely.”

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The targets included three in western Iraq and two in eastern Syria that were either command and control facilities or weapons caches for the Iranian-backed militia group, Esper said. 

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoEntire Nigerian police force mobilized after days of violent protests that have killed at least 69 Hillicon Valley: Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting critical facilities | Appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must comply with labor laws | Biden: Countries that target US elections will 'pay a price' Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting US critical facilities with destructive malware MORE, who was with Esper in Florida to brief President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE, called the airstrikes a “decisive response” to what he said were threats against American forces that have "been going on now for weeks and weeks and weeks.” 

“This wasn’t the first set of attacks against this particular Iraqi facility and others where there were American lives at risk,” Pompeo said. 

An American contractor, several U.S. service members and Iraqi personnel were injured Friday in a rocket attack in northern Iraq. 

Esper said he discussed other available options with Trump and said the U.S. “will take additional actions as necessary” to act in self-defense.

The U.S. airstrikes killed at least 25 people, CNN reported, citing a statement from Popular Mobilization Units, a Tehran-backed Shiiite militia also known as Hashd al-Shaabi. 

The strikes occurred at about 11 a.m. on Sunday, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.