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Iraq: Drone strike in Baghdad kills top Iran-backed militia official

Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces accuse US of killing one of its senior members
police vehicles near drone stike site in baghdad
Iraqi security forces stand guard near the site of the drone strike on 4 January 2024 (Reuters/Ahmed Saad)

A drone strike killed a senior Iran-backed militia member in Baghdad on Thursday, the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) said in a statement.

Abu Taqwa al-Saidi, deputy head of operations in the PMF (known as Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic) was killed in the strike along with two other members of the group.

No group has immediately taken responsibility for the attack, but the PMF and Iraqi government have accused the United States or its allies of conducting the attack.

The strike hit the headquarters of the PMF’s 12th Brigade, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, near the building of the Iraqi interior ministry.

It follows a series of attacks on US military bases in Iraq and Syria since the start of Israel’s war in Gaza on 7 October.

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The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of pro-Iranian Iraqi groups, has claimed responsibility for over 100 attacks. Some of them have wounded US soldiers.

A recent attack struck the US Embassy in Baghdad in the heavily guarded Green Zone.

The US military has conducted several strikes in response.

Iraqi groups also directly attacked Israel at least once with missiles, striking the southernmost town of Eilat on 22 December.

In a statement released by the Iraqi government, army spokesperson Yehia Rasool called the attack a “blatant aggression and violation of Iraq's sovereignty and security” and accused the US-led coalition of conducting the strike.

“We view this action as a dangerous escalation and assault on Iraq, diverging from the spirit and the text of the mandate and the mission for which the Global Coalition was established in Iraq."

The attack comes two days after Israel allegedly assassinated senior Hamas member Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon, and over a week after it killed senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard member Sayyed Razi Mousavi in Syria.

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