Last week, the US military confirmed that they had staged “defensive precision strikes” on weapons storage facilities of the Iraqi Shia paramilitary group Kataib Hezbollah in retaliation for the group’s previous attack on the Camp Taji military base in Iraq that killed at least two American servicemen.
NBC News has cited several unnamed US sources as saying on Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic prompted President Donald Trump last week to refrain from ordering a more aggressive response to an Iraqi paramilitary group’s recent attack on American troops in Iraq. The US sees Kataib Hezbollah as an Iranian proxy.
According to the sources, Trump told his senior national security advisers that such a retaliation could tarnish the US’s image now that Iran is grappling with COVID-19, which has already claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people in the Islamic Republic.
“The president has a pretty good sense of what type of action to take in response to these attacks”, one of the sources said, referring to the US military’s retaliatory steps as “proportional”.
The sources warned of Washington’s “proactive” actions aimed at preventing another attack, adding, “we recognise that there’s an ongoing threat; we don’t always have to be counterpunching”.
National security adviser Robert O’Brien, for his part, told Fox Business on Monday that the White House’s “eye is not off the…