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US kills Iraqi militia commander in retaliation for Jordan drone strike that killed 3 Americans

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III talks with sailors aboard the USS Harry S. Truman, from the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Dec. 22, 2021. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

A U.S. drone strike killed a high-ranking militia commander in Iraq on Wednesday night in retaliation for an attack on a small base in Jordan that killed three American troops.

Wissam Muhammad Sabir Al-Saadi, also known as Abu Baqir Al-Saadi, was a leader of the Kataib Hezbollah group and responsible for “directly planning and participating in attacks” on Americans, according to the U.S. military.

The latest U.S. strike targeted a car driving through Baghdad’s eastern Mashtal neighborhood around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, officials said. Al-Saadi was the only person killed, according to the U.S., while militia groups said the strike also killed two others.

Iraq’s government was not told about the U.S. strike ahead of time, American military leaders said.

The U.S. has targeted various Iran-backed militia groups across Iraq and Syria in response to the Jan. 28 attack on Tower 22, an American military outpost in Jordan that lies only a few miles from Iraq and Syria.

About one week after the attack, the U.S. struck various sites across Iraq and Syria that it linked to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose confederation of Iran-backed militias that American leaders blamed for the attack in Jordan. Kataib Hezbollah, which is different from the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, is part of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.

“Our response began today,” President Biden said after that first wave of attacks. “It will continue at times and places of our choosing.”

There have been more than 150 attacks on U.S. military personnel in the Middle East during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The Jordan drone strike, however, is the only attack that has killed American troops.


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