U.S. assassinates Iran backed militia leader in Iraq

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04 Jan 2024, 3:13 pm

Airstrike in Baghdad kills Iran-backed militia leader Abu Taqwa amid escalating regional tensions

An airstrike on the logistical support headquarters of an Iran-backed militia in central Baghdad Thursday killed a high-ranking militia commander, militia officials said. The airstrike was carried out by the United States, a U.S. official told CBS News.

The Popular Mobilization Force - a coalition of militias that is nominally under the control of the Iraqi military - announced in a statement that its deputy head of operations in Baghdad, Mushtaq Taleb al-Saidi, or "Abu Taqwa," had been killed "as a result of brutal American aggression."

Iraqi military spokesman Yehia Rasool said in a statement that the Iraqi army "holds the International Coalition Forces responsible for this unprovoked attack on an Iraqi security body operating in accordance with the powers granted to it by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces."

In a statement, Iraq's Foreign Ministry called the strike "a dangerous escalation" and said "that Iraq reserves its right to take a firm stance and all necessary measures to deter anyone who tries to harm its territory and its security forces."

Thursday's strike killed two people and wounded five, according to two militia officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

One of the officials said al-Saidi was driving into the garage of the headquarters affiliated with the al-Nujaba militia, one of the members of the PMF, along with another militia official when the car was hit, killing both.

Heavy security was deployed around the location of the strike on Baghdad's Palestine Street, and Associated Press journalists were not allowed to approach the targeted area. Iraqi war planes could be seen flying overhead.

Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, a group of Iranian-backed militias calling itself the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has carried out more than 100 attacks on bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.

The group has said the attacks are in retaliation for Washington's support of Israel in the war against Hamas that has killed more than 20,000 people in Gaza, and that they aim to push U.S. forces out of Iraq.

Thursday's strike is likely to increase calls for a U.S. departure.

Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani - who came to power with the backing of Iran-linked political factions but has also attempted to maintain good relations with the U.S. - said his government is "is proceeding to end the presence of the international coalition forces."

The U.S. is an active combatant in a regional war.

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04 Jan 2024, 3:16 pm

Ungrateful bastards.

They deserve another Saddam Hussein.

It ain't easy being me, but someone's gotta do it.