U.S. retaliatory strike targets militia leader in Baghdad

The prime minister’s military spokesman emphasized that the militia group operates with the authorization of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, asserting the strike as an affront to Iraqi sovereignty.

The U.S. military conducted a retaliatory strike in Baghdad, targeting a militia leader allegedly responsible for recent attacks on U.S. personnel, according to a U.S. official. The strike took place on Thursday, with a drone firing at least two rockets at a facility used by the Iraqi militia group al-Nujaba’a in eastern Baghdad.

Reports from Iraqi police sources and witnesses confirm that the rockets hit a vehicle inside the Nujaba’a headquarters, resulting in the death of four individuals, including a local group commander and one of his aides. Health sources have verified the death toll.

The United States has faced over 100 attacks in Iraq and Syria since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war in October, typically involving a combination of rockets and one-way attack drones. The U.S. military, with 2,500 troops deployed in Iraq and 900 in neighbouring Syria, aims to prevent the resurgence of Islamic State militants in the region.

The Iraqi armed forces, however, hold the international coalition forces responsible for what they consider an unjustified attack on an Iraqi security entity. The prime minister’s military spokesman emphasized that the militia group operates with the authorization of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, asserting the strike as an affront to Iraqi sovereignty.

According to the U.S. official, the strike specifically targeted the militia leader, and this objective was achieved with the destruction of the vehicle. Video footage circulating on pro-militia websites shows the aftermath—a destroyed vehicle engulfed in flames.

It is noteworthy that Iran-aligned groups in Iraq and Syria, critical of Israel’s campaign in Gaza, partly hold the United States responsible for the situation. Prime Minister Al-Sudani, while having limited control over some Iran-backed factions, relies on their support within his governing coalition.

Following the attack, Iraqi militia commanders have levelled accusations against the United States, coupled with implicit threats of reprisal. Abu Aqeel al-Moussawi, a commander within the local Iraqi militia, issued a cautionary statement, articulating the intent to ensure the Americans regret their perceived act of aggression.

Following the recent retaliatory air strikes carried out by the United States in Iraq last month, in response to a drone attack by militants aligned with Iran that resulted in critical injuries to one U.S. service member and wounds to two others, this new strike has occurred. As tensions escalate in the region, the situation remains fluid, with Iraqi security sources awaiting further details pending a government investigation into the recent strike.