US Central Command reported a military strike in Baghdad on Wednesday that eliminated a Kataib Hezbollah commander responsible for targeting American forces in the region. The strike, conducted by a drone against a vehicle in Baghdad, occurred without causing collateral damage or civilian casualties, according to both US and Iraqi officials.
Central Command stated, “We will not hesitate to hold responsible all those who threaten our forces’ safety.” The individual targeted in the strike was identified as Wisam Mohammed Saber al-Saedi, according to three US officials. Kataib Hezbollah issued a statement mourning al-Saedi’s death, urging steadfastness in their cause.
The strike hit an SUV in the Al-Mashtal neighborhood, predominantly Shia, as reported by local police officials. This action follows the recent drone attack on a US outpost in Jordan, resulting in the deaths of three American soldiers. The US attributed this attack to an Iran-backed group known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq. A US official confirmed that the strike was part of President Joe Biden’s authorized response to the Jordan attack.
While Iraq was not notified beforehand due to operational security concerns, the US communicated its intention to respond to the drone attack to Iraqi officials. Iraq’s Joint Operations Command denounced the strike as a “new aggression” by the US, emphasizing that it undermines existing agreements between the two nations.
A Biden administration official revealed that the strike on the Kataib Hezbollah commander is not the culmination of retaliatory actions, with further responses expected in the coming days. The timing of the strike was carefully chosen to minimize civilian casualties, with the US military acting swiftly when the opportunity arose.
Last week, Kataib Hezbollah announced a halt to their attacks and operations against US forces in the region to avoid embarrassing the Iraqi government.
The US responded with airstrikes in Iraq and Syria targeting seven locations used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated militias. This retaliation followed a deadly drone attack in Jordan that left dozens of troops injured. Officials indicated that further action would be taken against the militia groups, which have been targeting US and coalition forces across the region for months.
As of Tuesday, there had been at least 168 attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, resulting in a total of 146 US casualties. This included three service members killed in action, with three others medically evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. One remains there, while the other two have returned to the US.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command is investigating an incident where a vehicle was targeted in eastern Baghdad, resulting in two deaths. These strikes come at a sensitive time between the US and Iraqi governments, as talks on the future of the US presence in Iraq are imminent.
In total, the US struck more than 80 targets across seven locations in Iraq and Syria last week, targeting various facilities and operations associated with militia groups. The Iraqi government claimed that the strikes killed at least 16 people, including civilians. However, the US Central Command continues its assessment of the military action. Notably, Iraq was not informed in advance of the strikes conducted by the US in the country.
Iraq previously denounced US actions as a “flagrant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,” citing attacks in Al-Qa’im in Anbar Governorate and other Iraqi border areas. These actions were condemned for resulting in the deaths of Iraqi citizens and escalating tensions, posing a threat to regional security and stability.