US drone strike kills Iran-backed militia leader in Iraq

Washington, Feb 8 (IANS) The US central command (CENTCOM) has said that it killed a a senior commander with the Iran-backed militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq, allegedly involved in planning attacks on American bases overseas.

The commander was killed during a strike that took place around 9:30 p.m. local time, according to the CENTCOM.

“The US will continue to take necessary action to protect our people,” CENTCOM said in a statement.

“We will not hesitate to hold responsible all those who threaten our forces’ safety,” it said.

It said there were no civilian casualties or collateral damage from the strike.

The strike blasted a car in a busy intersection of a region in eastern Baghdad, resulting in the death of the militia commander and two other Kataib Hezbollah officials, according to US media reports.

The slain commander was identified as “Abu Bakr” al-Saadi.

The strike is the latest US military action against Iran-backed militia groups and the first attack in Iraq since Washington hit more than 85 targets last week across Iraq and Syria in response to the death of three American troops in Jordan in late January, which the Biden administration said was carried out by Iranian proxies, The Hill reported.

Some B-1 bombers carried out the strikes last week targeting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iranian-backed militia groups. While the US action was meant to deter more aggression, the Iranian proxies have continued attacking American and allied bases in the region, reports claimed.

The US has officially held the Islamic Resistance in Iraq accountable for the deadly attack in Jordan when a drone laded with missiles killed three US troops. But the Pentagon suggested that Kataib Hezbollah may have been behind the attack, with deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh saying the attack had the “footprints” of the militia group.

Since the Jordan attack, Kataib Hezbollah suspended military operations against American forces in Iraq to avoid embarrassment to the Iraqi government, reports claimed but lacked verification.

The US has continued to carry out strikes in Iraq which has repeatedly been condemned, as the Iraqi government is engaged in on-going talks with Washington on the future of the American military stationed there. The US also killed a senior Iranian-backed militia group leader from a group separate from Kataib Hezbollah in early January.

Irani-backed groups have attacked US troops more than 160 times in Iraq, Syria and Jordan since October 17, which the militia groups claims is in response to American support for the Israeli war against Hamas in Gaza that broke out on October 7.



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