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US says retaliatory strike in Baghdad killed Iranian-backed officer

U.S. Central Command said a senior Kataib Hezbollah commander was targeted in a retaliatory U.S. strike on Wednesday in Iraq.
US says retaliatory strike in Baghdad killed Iranian-backed officer
Posted at 4:21 PM, Feb 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-07 23:10:23-05

A U.S. drone strike hit a car in the Iraqi capital Wednesday night, killing three members of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah militia, including a high-ranking commander, U.S. Central Command said Wednesday.

The strike was "in response to the attacks on U.S. service members." Central Command said it targeted a commander who had directly "planned and participated in attacks on U.S. forces in the region."

The strike came on a main thoroughfare in the Mashtal neighborhood in eastern Baghdad. A crowd gathered as emergency response teams picked through the wreckage.

Two officials with Iran-backed militias in Iraq said that one of the three killed was Wissam Mohammed “Abu Bakr” al-Saadi, the commander in charge of Kataib Hezbollah’s operations in Syria. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to journalists.

SEE MORE: Satellite images show US strikes against Iranian-backed groups

The strike came amid roiling tensions in the region and days after the U.S. military launched an air assault on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in retaliation for a drone strike that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan in late January.

The U.S. has blamed the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a broad coalition of Iran-backed militias, for the attack in Jordan, and officials have said they suspect Kataib Hezbollah in particular of leading it.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has regularly claimed strikes on bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria against the backdrop of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, saying that they are in retaliation for Washington's support of Israel in its war in Gaza that has killed 27,707 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

Kataib Hezbollah had said in a statement that it was suspending attacks on American troops to avoid “embarrassing the Iraqi government” after the strike in Jordan, but others have vowed to continue fighting.

The latest surge in the regional conflict came shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected terms proposed by Hamas for a hostage-release agreement that would lead to a permanent cease-fire, vowing to continue the war until “absolute victory.”

Also on Wednesday, the media office of the Houthi rebels in Yemen reported two airstrikes in Ras Issa area in Salif district in Hodeida province.


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