AN Iran-backed commander has been killed in a pinpoint US drone strike that blitzed his car to pieces on the streets of Baghdad.
A key member of the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia and two of his guards were killed on Wednesday night after the US blamed him for the deaths of three of their troops, last month.
Two officials in Iraq said one of the men killed was Wissam Mohammed “Abu Bakr” al Saadi, the commander in charge of Kata’ib Hezbollah’s operations in Syria.
The other two people haven’t been identified yet.
A statement from the US Central Command confirmed it had launched a “unilateral strike” that killed the commander and his cronies.
They said: “At 9.30pm February 7, US Central Command (CENTCOM) forces conducted a unilateral strike in Iraq in response to the attacks on US 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. 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.”
Shocking video footage shows the car set on fire as it melts away on the side of the road before being left a battered wreck.
Onlookers stop in their cars and run across the street to look at the flaming mess as thick smokes plumes fly into the sky.
Huge crowds of Iraqi residents then gathered on the streets as they watched emergency services tear apart the burnt out wreckage to recover the bodies.
The locals were “furious” over the killings and were demanding “revenge” from the Iraqi government, reported Sky News.
Posts on social media were even urging Iraq to protest against theand storm the countries US embassy.
Armed guards quickly arrived at the packed scene and cordoned off the street and attempted to calm down the residents.
The precision missile blasted a main road in the Mashtal neighborhood in eastern Baghdad.
Why did the US target the commander?
The Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah was blamed for a drone strike that killed SgtRivers, 46, Specialist Kennedy Sanders, 24, and Specialist Breonna Moffett, 23, last month.
The chilling attack on the Tower 22 base in Jordan, also injured another 34 people.
The strike marked the first US deaths by enemy fire since the start of the Israel-Hamas war – a major escalation in the crisis taking hold across the region.
The US Department of Defense said that the drone attack bore the signs of an extremist group with access to Iranian weaponry.
Who are Kata’ib Hezbollah?
KATA’IB Hezbollah is a radical Shiite paramilitary group based in southern Iraq.
Also known as the Hezbollah Brigades, the group first emerged in the early 2000s and has been blamed for violence across Iraq.
It has close ties with fellow Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran’s terrorist army, the Islamist Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The group is also affiliated with the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Force), an alliance of Iran-backed former paramilitary groups now integrated into Iraq’s regular armed forces.
With up to 10,000 members, the group has been responsible for attacks on US targets in Iraq and Syria killing hundreds of soldiers.
Its leader Ahmad al-Hamidawi, was named a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in February 2020.
The Pentagon believes that a drone strike on a US base near the Syria-Jordan border on January 28 that killed three personnel bore the ‘footprints’ of the group.
President Joe Biden had earlier vowed to “respond” to the attack.
He said on last week: “Last night, three US service members were killed – and many wounded – during an unmanned aerial drone attack on our forces stationed in northeast Jordan near the Syria border.
“While we are still gathering the facts of this attack, we know it was carried out by radical Iran-backed militant groups operating in Syria and Iraq.”
The Pentagon said the soldiers died when “a one-way unmanned aerial system impacted their container housing units.”
The US has 45,000 military personnel currently stationed in the Middle East.
They launched missiles against more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria last Friday, including Iranian-backed militias, killing 34 people in both countries.
Iraq slammed the airstrikes and warned that the “aggressive strike” puts the region “on the brink of the abyss”.
There are roughly 2,500 American troops in Iraq and some 900 in Syria – a hangover from the occupation and an attempt to monitor Islamic extremist threats.
Credit Gist New Today News in Newspaper Nigeria Headlines