The Iraqi president said it was “unacceptable and considered as an aggressive action and violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”
Iran condemned airstrikes by the United States in Iraq and Syria as an act of “terrorism” on Monday, while denying any involvement in attacks against American forces in the region.
American fighter jets bombed five sites across Iraq and Syria on Sunday. They targeted weapons and munitions depots that U.S. officials said were linked to Iran-backed militias allegedly involved in violence against coalition bases in recent months.
At least 24 people were killed and 50 injured, according to local media quoting militia spokespeople.
Iraqi President Barham Saleh said the attack was “unacceptable and considered as an aggressive action and violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”
The U.S. has about 5,000 troops in Iraq to train and assist government troops in the fight against the Islamic State militant group. In Iraq there are also a network of powerful militias, which are sanctioned by the state and many of which are backed by neighboring Iran.
On Sunday, American F-15s dropped precision-guided bombs on five sites in Iraq and neighboring Syria that the U.S. said were linked to some of these militias.
The U.S. said these militias were responsible for 11 rocket attacks against coalition bases in the last two months, including one that killed a U.S. contractor and injured four U.S. service members in Kirkuk on Friday morning.
Iran has denied that it’s behind these attacks and on Monday denounced the U.S. airstrikes.
“We strongly condemn this aggression on Iraqi soil and say it’s an example of terrorism,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a statement. “The U.S. has to respect the territorial integrity and independence of Iraq and to stop interfering in Iraqi internal affairs.”
Mousavi also called on the U.S. to “end its occupation in the region.”
One of the militia groups targeted was Kataeb Hezbollah, also known as the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq.
It is separate from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and operates under the umbrella of the state-sanctioned militias, known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
In a statement to its affiliated television station, Al Manar, Hezbollah condemned what it called “the brutal and treacherous American aggression.”
According to Sanam Vakil, a senior research fellow at the London think tank Chatham House, the attacks and Tehran’s response were evidence that Iran is trying to “push America’s buttons.”