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Militia leader killed in US drone attack in Iraqi capital

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-08 09:17

BAGHDAD -- At least three people were killed on Wednesday in a drone attack on a car of paramilitary Hashd Shaabi Forces in eastern Baghdad, Iraq's capital, an Interior Ministry source said.

The attack occurred in the evening when a drone bombarded a sport utility vehicle of the paramilitary forces in the al-Mashtal neighborhood, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The blast caused a fire and killed three people inside the vehicle, the source said, adding that Iraqi security forces sealed off the scene and a civil defense team rushed to put out the fire.

The source identified one man killed in the car as Abu Baqir al-Saadi, a commander of Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed armed group in Iraq that has links to Hashd Shaabi Forces, or the Popular Mobilization Forces.

After the attack, Iraqi security forces intensified security measures around the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses some of the main government institutions and foreign diplomatic missions, including the US embassy, in anticipation of any security breaches, according to the source.

The Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement via its affiliated media outlet Security Media Cell that a bombardment targeted a civilian car at 9:35 p.m. local time (1835 GMT) in the al-Mashtal neighborhood, killing those aboard.

Meanwhile, the US Central Command said in a post on the social media platform X that its forces conducted a unilateral strike at 9:30 p.m. (Baghdad Time), killing a Kataib Hezbollah commander "responsible for directly planning and participating in attacks on US forces in the region."

It said the strike caused no collateral damage or civilian casualties and that "the United States will continue to take necessary action to protect our people."

The strike was part of the ongoing US retaliation to a recent drone attack on its military base in Jordan, in which three US soldiers were killed and over 40 others were injured.

The White House assessed that an Iran-backed umbrella group known as Islamic Resistance in Iraq - of which Kataib Hezbollah is a part - carried out the attack.

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