US kills Kataeb Hezbollah commander in Baghdad

AFP , Thursday 8 Feb 2024

An American air strike in Iraq on Wednesday killed a senior commander from Kataeb Hezbollah group who was involved in attacks on Washington's troops in the region, the US army claimed.

Civil defense members gather at the site of a burned vehicle targeted by a U.S. drone strike in east Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 2024.AP


Washington launched a wave of strikes on Iraq and Syria last week following the killing of three American troops in neighbouring Jordan on January 28, and the US Central Command (CENTCOM) claimed the Kataeb Hezbollah commander was assassinated Wednesday "in response to the attacks on US service members".

According to CENTCOM, there are "no indications of collateral damage or civilian casualties at this time".

However, an interior ministry official said a total of three people -- two Kataeb Hezbollah leaders and their driver -- died in the strike, which was carried out by a drone in the east Baghdad neighbourhood of Machtal.

A member of Kataeb Hezbollah -- which announced it was suspending violence against US forces after the Jordan attack -- confirmed a commander who was responsible for the "military file" in Syria had been assassinated, identifying him as Abu Baqr al-Saadi.

The Hashed al-Shaabi, a coalition of mainly pro-Iran paramilitaries now integrated into Iraq's regular security forces, also confirmed Saadi's killing in a statement.

'Playing with fire' 

An AFP photographer said security forces deployed in the neighbourhood, barring access to it after the attack.

Later in the evening, the remains of a car were removed from the area.

Reacting to the commander's death, Iraq's Al-Nujaba movement in a statement promised a "targeted retaliation", assuring that "these crimes will not go unpunished".

The group added that American "violations" will not cease without "a firm official position from the Iraqi government".

The United States considers Kataeb Hezbollah -- which Washington says may have been involved in the Jordan attack -- a terrorist group.

The Hashed al-Shaabi has said that 16 of its fighters were killed and 36 people wounded in the US strikes on Friday, which Washington said hit 85 targets at seven different sites in Iraq and Syria.

"Targeting the Hashed al-Shaabi is playing with fire," the group's leader Faleh al-Fayyad warned on Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said at least 29 fighters were killed in Syria.

The United States and Iraq opened talks on the future of the US-led troop presence in January, following a request by the Iraqi prime minister for a timetable for their withdrawal.

Washington has some 900 troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq as part of an international coalition against the Islamic State group.

Short link: