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US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Image Credit: Reuters

Washington: The US military carried out retaliatory air strikes on Monday in Iraq after a one-way drone attack earlier in the day by militants that left one US service member in critical condition and wounded two other US personnel, officials said.

At President Joe Biden's direction, the US military carried out the strikes in Iraq at 1:45 GMT, likely killing "a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants" and destroying multiple facilities used by the group, the US military said.

"These strikes are intended to hold accountable those elements directly responsible for attacks on coalition forces in Iraq and Syria and degrade their ability to continue attacks.

We will always protect our forces," said General Michael Erik Kurilla, head of US Central Command, in a statement.

A US base in Iraq's Erbil that houses US forces came under attack from a one-way drone earlier on Monday, leading to the latest US casualties.

The base has been repeatedly targeted.

The Pentagon did not disclose details about the identity of the service member who was critically wounded or offer more details on the injuries sustained in the attack. It also did not offer details on how this drone appeared to penetrate the base's air defences.

"My prayers are with the brave Americans who were injured," US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

The White House National Security Council said Biden was briefed on the attack on Monday and ordered the Pentagon to prepare response options against those responsible.

"The President places no higher priority than the protection of American personnel serving in harm's way. The United States will act at a time and in a manner of our choosing should these attacks continue," NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.

Still, it is unclear if the latest US retaliation will deter future action against US forces, who are deployed in Iraq and Syria to prevent a resurgence of militants.