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US airstrike eliminates commander of Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq

The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) conducted a targeted unilateral strike in Iraq, aiming to eliminate a commander responsible for orchestrating attacks against US service members in the region

US airstrike eliminates commander of Iran-backed Kata'ib Hezbollah in Iraq
First Published Feb 8, 2024, 8:55 AM IST

In response to recent attacks on American service members in Iraq, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) conducted a targeted unilateral strike. This strike aimed to eliminate a commander of the Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah who was directly involved in planning and executing assaults against US forces in the region. According to statements from CENTCOM, the operation was carried out with precision to minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties. The strike occurred in the densely populated al-Mashtal neighbourhood of east Baghdad, which also serves as a location for one of Kata'ib Hezbollah's offices.

The decision to conduct the strike follows ongoing tensions between US forces and militia groups operating in Iraq. Kata'ib Hezbollah, a designated terrorist organization, has previously claimed responsibility for attacks on US troops. However, the group recently announced a cessation of hostilities against US forces, making the timing of the strike significant.

While the strike targeted a specific individual, it has broader implications for security and stability in Iraq. The Iraqi military command has launched an investigation into an assault targeting a civilian vehicle that resulted in the fatalities of its occupants. A verified video, authenticated by an Iraqi Interior Ministry official, depicted an SUV consumed by flames while maintaining its structural integrity. Security forces in Baghdad have heightened vigilance in anticipation of potential backlash, including anti-US demonstrations. Additionally, some Iraqi lawmakers view the strike as further justification for their longstanding demands to expel US troops from the country.

The strike also comes amid negotiations between Iraq and the United States regarding the future of the US-led coalition presence in Iraq. These discussions are particularly relevant as the US seeks to maintain a reduced military presence to counter the threat posed by the Islamic State group. However, critics argue that the focus of the US mission has shifted towards addressing broader geopolitical tensions, particularly with Iran.

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