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US brings retribution to Iran-backed militia leader in Baghdad strike

The assassination of a Kataib Hezbollah commander in Baghdad on Wednesday came as the US military has struggled to intimidate Iran-backed groups without escalating towards direct conflict with Iran amid tensions over Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
People watch as a vehicle that was hit by a drone strike, reportedly killing three people including two leaders of a pro-Iran group, is carried away in Baghdad on Feb. 7, 2024.

WASHINGTON — A US drone strike that killed an Iraqi militia commander in eastern Baghdad on Wednesday was weeks in the making, part of a calculated retaliation authorized by President Joe Biden following a drone attack that killed three US soldiers at a base in Jordan late last month.

The strike destroyed a vehicle carrying Abu Baqir al-Saadi, a senior Kataib Hezbollah commander, and Arkan al-Aleaoui, another alleged Kataib Hezbollah official, killing them both in the Mashtal neighborhood of the Iraqi capital around 9:30 p.m. local time, local reports stated.

“This was in planing from the moment the president directed the military to review options following the attack” on the Tower 22 base in Jordan, a US official said.

Biden quietly ordered the military early last week to kill those behind that attack. The US military carried out the strike “as soon as the opportunity presented itself,” the official told Al-Monitor. 

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