US drone strike in Iraqi capital kills leader of Iran-linked militia

A senior commander of Kataib Hezbollah – an Iran-backed armed group in Iraq that the Pentagon linked to the fatal attack that killed three American troops in Jordan – was killed in a drone strike on a vehicle in eastern Baghdad on Wednesday (Feb 7) night, the US military.

What we know about the strike

The American “forces conducted a unilateral strike in Iraq in response to the attacks on U.S. service members, killing a Kataib Hezbollah commander responsible for directly planning and participating in attacks on U.S. forces in the region,” a statement from the US military’s Central Command said on social media.

It added, “There are no indications of collateral damage or civilian casualties at this time.”

A report by the Associated Press citing militia officials said the drone strike hit a car in the Iraqi capital and killed three members of the Kataib Hezbollah group, including a high-ranking commander. 

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The senior commander killed was Abu Baqir al-Saadi, said a report by Reuters citing two sources. One of the sources told the news agency that three people were killed and that the vehicle targeted was used by Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). 

The PMF is a state security agency composed of dozens of armed groups, many of them close to Iran and also reportedly includes fighters and commanders from Kataib Hezbollah. 

A report by AFP citing a security source reported the deaths of two officials from the Iran-backed militia which had previously taken part in attacks on US forces in Iraq.

Two officials with Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, as per AP, said one of those killed was Wissam Mohammed “Abu Bakr” al-Saadi, the commander in charge of Kataib Hezbollah’s operations in Syria. 

Three American troops killed in Jordan

The strike in Iraq comes days after the US military launched air strikes on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria which they said are being used by Iran-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. 

The strikes are being conducted in response to the drone strike on a base in Jordan which killed three US soldiers last month. 

The US and allied troops have been attacked more than 165 times in the Middle East since mid-October amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza. 

According to reports, the attacks on US forces are a campaign waged by Iran-backed armed groups in the region who are angered by Washington’s support for Israel amid the ongoing war.

After the fatal drone strike on US forces in January, the Pentagon said that the attack bore the “footprints” of Kataib Hezbollah. The Iran-backed group then announced it was suspending military operations against American military personnel in the region. 

(With inputs from agencies)


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