By: Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation
The U.S. military killed a senior militant leader connected to the deadly Jan. 28 attacks on U.S. troops in a drone strike Wednesday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said.
Explosions were heard in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday, killing as many as three militant leaders affiliated with the Kataib Hezbollah militant group the Pentagon has linked to the Jan. 28 attack on Jordan’s Tower 22 that killed 3 U.S. troops, Reuters reported. U.S. forces killed at least one commander responsible for directing attacks on U.S. troops in the region, CENTCOM said.
“At 9:30 p.m. February 7, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces conducted a unilateral strike in Iraq in response to the attacks on U.S. service members, killing a Kata’ib Hezbollah commander responsible for directly planning and participating in attacks on U.S. forces in the region. There are no indications of collateral damage or civilian casualties at this time,” CENTCOM said in a statement.
“The United States will continue to take necessary action to protect our people. We will not hesitate to hold responsible all those who threaten our forces’ safety,” the statement added.
As many as three people were killed, and a targeted vehicle that went up in flames belonged to Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Reuters reported, citing a security source.
Kataib Hezbollah fighters belong to the PMF, according to Reuters.
Pro-Iran social media accounts identified the individuals as Abu Baqir Al-Saadi and Arkan Al-Alawi, two senior commanders for the Kataib Hezbollah militant group. Photos of identification cards purported to be taken from near the burned-out vehicle were included in the reports.
Al-Saadi is the commander in charge of Kataib Hezbollah’s Syria operations, according to The Associated Press.
The U.S. carried out a large-scale wave of strikes on Iran-backed militants in Iraq and Syria and the Iranian military command that oversees Tehran’s proxy operations on Friday in response to the Jan. 28 suicide drone bombing that caused the first U.S. fatalities since the escalation of attacks.
Biden administration officials said more retaliation was to come.
“Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing,” President Joe Biden said Friday after the first — and so far only — wave of strikes.
In January, a U.S. drone strike killed a senior leader of another terrorist front, also belonging to the PMF and connected to the attacks on U.S. troops located at abases in Iraq and Syria. Rockets struck the headquarters of Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba in Baghdad, killing four including a regional commander Mushtaq Taleb al-Saidi, or “Abu Taqwa,” and one of his aides.
The U.S. maintains a presence of about 2,500 troops in Iraq and an additional 900 in Syria to carry out an ongoing mission to defeat the Islamic State.