A US drone strike targeting a car in Baghdad killed three members of Kataib Hezbollah, a pro-Iranian armed group, including a senior commander, officials confirmed following a series of explosions heard in the Iraqi capital.
The operation, which took place in a densely populated area of eastern Baghdad known as al-Mashtal, was conducted in response to recent attacks on US service members, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said.
According to CENTCOM, the strike resulted in the death of the Kataeb Hezbollah commander responsible for orchestrating and participating in attacks on US forces in the area.
The Associated Press reported that two officials affiliated with Iranian-backed armed groups in Iraq confirmed senior commander Abu Baqir al-Saadi was among those killed in the strike. In addition, the local Sabereen News corroborated this information, reporting that al-Saadi had been killed in the blast.
The strike comes as part of a US campaign targeting Iranian and pro-Iranian forces in both Iraq and Syria, in response attacks on American troops stationed in the region, following escalating tensions in the wider Middle East. Last week the US targeted 85 sites across the two countries in retaliation for an attack on a base in Jordan that killed three US soldiers.
In the aftermath of the strike, security was tightened in Baghdad, particularly around the heavily fortified US embassy, amid fears of possible anti-American demonstrations. Security forces were deployed in the affected neighbourhood to maintain order and prevent unrest.
The incident comes amid ongoing talks between the US and Iraq over the future of US-led troops in the area. The Iraqi Prime Minister’s earlier request for a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops has prompted negotiations between the two nations.