U.S. Assassinates High Ranking Official of Iraq-Based Kataib Hezbollah Militia
ON 02/08/2024 AT 05 : 06 AM
The airstrike by an armed UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) flashed through the sky around 9:30 pm February 7 onto one of the busiest shopping roads in Mashtal, a community located in eastern Baghdad. The drone hit a single car which according to U.S. military officials was carrying three individuals who are part of the Kataib Hezbollah organization.
Being a busy road and with people gathered all around, crowds showed up to see if anyone had survived. All three in the car were dead at the scene. It appeared no other vehicle was damaged but if the drone had mis-targeted even by a small distance others would have been killed.
Soon after the airstrike, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization forces, a group which includes Kataib Hezbollah as one of its affiliates, issued a release saying that one of the three killed in the assault was Abu Baqir al-Saedi, a senior leader in Kataib Hezbollah resistance group that has been targeting U.S. occupation forces.
Kataib Hezbollah also posted an image of the blown-up vehicle along with a photo of al-Saedi. In its accompanying message, it reiterated the demand that the U.S. leave Iraq forever and swore vengeance this time for the attack.
“We swear we won’t be silent,” the message read.
According to the Pentagon, Kataib Hezbollah is an Iranian-allied militia organization based in Iraq which was behind the attack on the U.S. Ain al-Asad Air Base in the Anbar region of Iraq on February 20. The U.S. believes it is also behind many other attacks on various U.S. bases in Iraq, on seized land in Syria, and nearby both which have increased in number since October. The latest of those was at the U.S. airbase located at Tower 22 in Jordan on January 28, where three American military personnel were killed and dozens wounded.
The U.S. responded to the Tower 22 attack with aerial attacks via B-1 bombers flown from the United States and from other launch locations on February 2. Those attacks were launched on 85 targets which the Pentagon alleges were tied to Kataib Hezbollah and its Iranian backers.
U.S. Central Command took credit for the assassination with an announcement of its own. It said its drone had killed “a Kataeb Hezbollah commander responsible for directly planning and participating in attacks on US forces in the region”. It said it was a direct “response to the attacks on US service members”, while also clarifying that early inspection of the wreckage at the airstrike showed “no indications of collateral damage or civilian casualties at this time.”
CENTCOM also used the opportunity to send another warning to Kataib Hezbollah and its affiliates.
“The United States will continue to take necessary action to protect our people. We will not hesitate to hold responsible all those who threaten our forces’ safety,” it said in a published statement. It did not mention when it would end the occupation of Iraq and Syria.