A picture taken on March 13, 2020 shows a crater and destruction in the Iraqi shrine city of Karbala, in one of the areas targeted by US military air strikes against a pro-Iranian group in Iraq following the deaths of two Americans and a Briton in a rocket attack the previous night on a US base in Taji.
 The US operation targeted five weapons facilities of the Kataeb Hezbollah armed faction across Iraq, the Pentagon said in a statement, one of them in Karbala, south of Baghdad. Wednesday's attack on the Taji air base was the 22nd on US installations in Iraq, including the American embassy, since late October. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, Washington has blamed Iran-backed factions from the Hashed al-Shaabi network, a state-sponsored umbrella group that includes Kataeb Hezbollah, for recent similar violence.
 / AFP / Mohammed SAWAF
A March 13 photo showing the aftermath of a US strike on Kataeb Hezbollah in Karbala, Iraq. AFP

Divided and distracted, the US risks ceding precious ground in Iraq to Tehran