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

It is the latest retaliatory move by American forces following an attack on a base in Jordan that killed three US soldiers last month.

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A US drone strike hit a car in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad Wednesday night, killing a senior member of an Iran-backed militia said to be responsible for attacks on American troops in the Middle East.

Wissam Muhammad Sabir Al-Saadi was a high-ranking commander of Kataib Hezbollah,  and was responsible for “directly planning and participating” in violent actions against US military servicemembers and assets. He was the commander in charge of the group’s operations in Syria.

Al-Saadi’s death was confirmed to the Associated Press by two officials with Iran-backed militias in Iraq, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Iraqi government condemned the attack, describing it as a ‘hostile violation’ of the country’s sovereignty. There was no immediate comment from US officials.

The precision strike on a main thoroughfare in the Mashtal neighborhood in eastern Baghdad was the latest retaliatory action by American forces following a drone attack that killed three US soldiers in Jordan last month.

The strike came days after the US military launched an air assault on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The US has blamed the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a broad coalition of Iran-backed militias, for the attack in Jordan, and officials have said they suspect Kataib Hezbollah in particular of leading it.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has regularly claimed strikes on bases housing US 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.

Kataib Hezbollah issued a statement after the strike in Jordan saying it was suspending attacks on American troops to avoid “embarrassing the Iraqi government”, but other groups have vowed to continue fighting.

On Sunday, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for a drone attack on a base housing US troops in eastern Syria. The strike killed six fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led group allied with the US.

The latest surge of violence in the Middle East 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 ceasefire in Gaza, vowing to continue the war until “absolute victory.”