Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The United States carried out "precision defensive strikes" in Iraq and Syria after a series of attacks targeting bases in Iraq that hosted U.S. service members.
Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman issued a statement saying the strikes targeted five locations belonging to the Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary group Kata'ib Hezbollah including three in Western Iraq and two in Eastern Syria in response to attacks on bases that hosted Operation Inherent Resolve coalition forces.
"These locations included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on OIR coalition forces," Hoffman said.
Hoffman noted that the Kata'ib Hezbollah recent strikes have included more than 30 rocket attacks on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk.
On Friday, a U.S. Defense Department contractor died during a rocket strike on the base. Hoffman said four U.S. service members and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces were also injured.
"Iran and their KH proxy forces must cease their attacks on U.S. and coalition forces and respect Iraq's sovereignty, to prevent additional defensive actions by U.S. forces," said Hoffman.
Iraq's Joint Operations Command said four militant fighters were killed in the strike.
"For those who ask about the response: It will be the size of our father," Kata'ib Hezbollah spokesman Jaafar al-Hussaini said in a statement.
In Florida with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to brief President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort on the mission on Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters that the airstrikes were "successful" and that all aircraft and pilots returned to base "safely."
He said they will consider taking further options if the attacks continue.
"We discussed with [Trump] other options that are available," he said. "And I would note also that we will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defense and we deter further bad behavior from militia groups or from Iran."