<div>Commander of Iran-backed militia & 2 of his cronies blamed for deaths of American troops are killed in US drone strike</div>

Commander of Iran-backed militia & 2 of his cronies blamed for deaths of American troops are killed in US drone...

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THE commander of an Iran-backed militia responsible for the deaths of three US troops has been killed in a drone strike in Baghdad.

A key member of the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia and two of his guards were killed when their vehicle was struck on Wednesday night.

Reuters

People inspect a vehicle, after what security sources said was a deadly drone strike[/caption]

AFP

Emergency services gather around a vehicle hit by a drone strike in Baghdad[/caption]

The Iran-backed militia is said to have been responsible for a drone strike that killed three American troops in Jordan last month.

A statement from the US Central Command confirmed it had launched a “unilateral strike” that has killed the commander responsible for the unprecedented attack.

It 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.

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“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.”

Sgt William Rivers, 46, Specialist Kennedy Sanders, 24, and Specialist Breonna Moffett, 23, were killed in the attack on the Tower 22 base in Jordan, which injured another 34.

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.

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.

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“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.

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.

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.

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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.

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