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U.S. Says It Carried Out Unilateral Air Strikes In Iraq

The United States military says it carried out two air strikes against militants in Iraq in June, and Iraqi forces were not involved in the operations.

Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, the spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq, told reporters in Washington that both strikes were carried out in self-defense to prevent attacks on U.S. forces.

The spokesman said U.S. forces have the right to self-defense under a security pact with Iraq that is due to expire at the end of this year, when the United States is scheduled to withdraw all of its remaining 46,000 forces from Iraq.

The U.S. military spokesman added that U.S. officials believe that Iranian-backed militias are now a bigger threat to the Iraqi government than Al-Qaeda militants.

He said the elite Iranian Quds force provides direct support, including equipment and intelligence, to the militants.

The spokesman said the U.S. estimates that there are currently about 800 to 1,000 Al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq.

compiled from agency reports