A commander of Kataib Hezbollah, an armed group in Iraq backed by Iran and which the Pentagon has blamed for attacking its troops, was killed in a US strike on Wednesday, the US military said.
“(US) forces carried out a unilateral attack in Iraq in response to attacks against US service members, killing a Kataib Hezbollah commander responsible for planning and directly participating in attacks against US forces in the region,” an army statement said. He did not name the commander.
He added that there was no indication of civilian casualties.
Two security sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the commander was Abu Baqir al-Saadi, killed in a drone strike on a vehicle in eastern Baghdad.
One of the sources said that three people were killed and that the vehicle attacked was used by Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a state security agency made up of dozens of armed groups, many of them close to Iran.
Kataib Hezbollah fighters and commanders are part of the PMF. Three American soldiers were killed in January in a drone strike near the Jordan-Syria border that the Pentagon said had the “footprints” of Kataib Hezbollah. The group then announced it would suspend military operations against US troops in the region.
Iraq and Syria have seen almost daily attacks between hardline armed groups backed by Iran and US forces stationed in the region since the Gaza war began in October.
The United States attacked Iranian-backed groups in Iraq and Syria last weekend in what it said was just the beginning of its response to the killing of the three American soldiers.
In January, a US drone strike killed a senior militia commander in central Baghdad, an attack that Washington said came in response to drone and rocket attacks on its forces.
On Wednesday, Iraqi special forces were on high alert in Baghdad and more units were deployed inside the Green Zone that houses international diplomatic missions, including the US embassy, a security source said.
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