UNITED STATES NEWS

US drone strike in Baghdad kills high-ranking militia leader linked to attacks on American troops

Feb 7, 2024, 7:15 PM

US Drone strike in Baghdad kills high-ranking militia leader...

Civil defense members gather at the site of a burned vehicle targeted by a U.S. drone strike in east Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

BAGHDAD (AP) — A U.S. drone strike blew up a car in the Iraqi capital Wednesday night, killing a high-ranking commander of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah militia who is responsible for “directly planning and participating in attacks” on American troops in the region, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

The precision blast hit a main thoroughfare in the Mashtal neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, attracting a crowd as emergency teams picked through the wreckage. It came amid roiling tensions in the region, and will likely further anger Iraqi government leaders, who U.S. officials said were not notified in advance of the strike.

Security forces closed off the heavily guarded Green Zone, where a number of diplomatic compounds are located, and there were concerns about social media postings urging protesters to storm the U.S. embassy.

There were conflicting reports on the number of those killed, with U.S. officials saying the initial assessment was one, and saying there were no civilians hurt or killed. But two officials with Iran-backed militias in Iraq said that three died, including Wissam Muhammad Sabir Al-Saadi, known as Abu Baqir Al-Saadi, the commander in charge of Kataib Hezbollah’s operations in Syria. Kataeb Hezbollah later announced his death “following the bombing of the American occupation forces” in a statement.

Those officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to journalists.

In a statement, U.S. Central Command said “there are no indications of collateral damage or civilian casualties at this time.” It added that the U.S. “will not hesitate to hold responsible all those who threaten our forces’ safety.”

The strike — which came at 9:30 p.m. local time — is certain to inflame already seething relations between Washington and Baghdad. It comes just 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 and injured more than 40 others at a base 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. President Joe Biden and other top leaders have repeatedly warned that the U.S. would continue to retaliate against those responsible for the Jordan attack. And officials have suggested that key militia leaders would be likely targets.

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 more than 27,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

There have been nearly 170 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 18, but the latest drone strike in Jordan — the only one in that country so far — was the first to take American troops’ lives. The U.S., in response, has struck back about a half dozen times since Oct. 27, targeting weapons storage sites, command and control centers, training facilities and other locations used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iranian-backed groups, including Kataib Hezbollah.

Wednesday’s U.S. strike in Iraq’s capital drew comparisons to the 2020 drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iran’s Quds Force leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in response to attacks on U.S. bases there and an assault on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. That bombing also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. And it enraged Iraqi leaders, triggering demands for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country.

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.

On Sunday, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed a drone attack on a base housing U.S. troops in eastern Syria killed six fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led group allied with the United States.

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.

___

Madhani and Baldor reported from Washington. Associated Press journalist Ali Jabar in Baghdad contributed to this report.

United States News

Forgiving father's killer hard for 3 children of Jordan Rasmussen...

KSL Podcasts/Amy Donaldson

A family decides to forgive a killer, but will the next generation follow?

Michael Moore killed Jordan Rasmussen and Buddy Booth in 1982. Forgiving their father's killer was hard for Rasmussen's three children.

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Neil Goldschmidt, former Oregon governor who confessed to sex with a minor in the 1970s, has died

Neil Goldschmidt, a former Oregon governor whose confession that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s blackened what had been a nearly sterling reputation, has died. He was 83. Goldschmidt died at his Portland home on Wednesday, The Oregonian reported, according to family members. The newspaper said the reported cause was heart […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged with robbing a California bank was released from prison a day earlier, prosecutors say

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A man charged with taking three people hostage while robbing a Southern California bank last month had been released from prison a day earlier, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The 53-year-old was indicted on robbery charges after investigators said he claimed to have a gun, jumped over the teller counter and […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Woman with gun taken into custody after standoff at FBI building in Seattle, authorities say

SEATTLE (AP) — A woman armed with a handgun was taken into custody after an hourlong standoff at the FBI building in Seattle on Wednesday, authorities said. The woman walked into a publicly accessible area where people have to wait to be buzzed into the lobby, according to FBI spokesperson Steve Bernd. She pointed the […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

South Carolina man pleads guilty in federal court to fatally shooting Virginia police officer

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A South Carolina man pleaded guilty to federal charges Wednesday in the shooting death of a police officer in southwest Virginia in 2021. Michael Donivan White, 36, of Cross, South Carolina, had already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges in state court. The federal counts include drug charges and causing the […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Democrats in Congress say federal mediators should let airline workers strike when it’s ‘necessary’

A group of 32 senators say federal mediators should speed up labor negotiations between airlines and their flight attendants and other workers, even granting them permission to go on strike “as necessary.” The lawmakers said Wednesday that airlines feel no pressure to reach contract agreements quickly because federal law makes it difficult for airline workers […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

US drone strike in Baghdad kills high-ranking militia leader linked to attacks on American troops