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US airstrike kills Iran-backed terrorist leader

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder holds a press briefing, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Jan. 17, 2023. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
January 08, 2024

The Pentagon has confirmed that an Iran-backed terrorist leader in Baghdad, Iraq, was killed in a United States airstrike on Thursday.

During a Pentagon press briefing on Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed that the U.S. airstrike was executed at roughly 12 p.m. Iraq time on January 4.

“U.S. forces took necessary and proportionate action against Mushtaq Jawad Kazim al-Jawari, a.k.a Abu Taqwa, who was a Harakat al-Nujaba leader. Abu Taqwa was actively involved in planning and carrying out attacks against American personnel,” Ryder said. “The strike also killed another HAN member, and it is important to note that the strike was taken in self-defense, that no civilians were harmed and that no infrastructure or facilities were struck.”

In 2019, the U.S. State Department designated the Harakat al-Nujaba group as a terrorist organization. The Pentagon noted that the Harakat al-Nujaba terrorist organization is currently operating in Syria and Iraq.

When pressed for specific details regarding Thursday’s airstrike, the Pentagon press secretary said, “As we’ve long said, we maintain the inherent right of self-defense and we’ll take necessary action to protect our personnel.”

Ryder also explained that U.S. forces are currently in Iraq “at the invitation of the government of Iraq.” He added, “They’re there for one reason, which is to support the defeat-ISIS mission.”

READ MORE: US launches strikes after US troops injured in attack on Christmas

According to Stars and Stripes, the recent airstrike against another Iran-backed terrorist organization comes after Iran-backed terrorist groups have conducted over 100 attacks against U.S. bases in both Iraq and Syria since the middle of October. The United States has been continuing to navigate the increasing tension in the Middle East by increasing its military presence and conducting retaliatory strikes against terrorist organizations in the region.

The United States recently launched airstrikes against Iran-backed terrorist organizations in Iraq after a drone strike against U.S. personnel at Erbil Air Base resulted in injuries to three U.S. service members on Christmas.

In addition to the repeated attacks against U.S. forces in the Middle East, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Navy operations in the Middle East, told reporters that the Iran-backed Houthis had conducted 25 attacks on commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Read Sea.

In December, the Pentagon unveiled a new multinational task force, “Operation Prosperity Guardian,” to address shipping concerns in the wake of increased Houthi attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea.