U.S. Drone Strike Targets Kata'ib Hezbollah Commander in Baghdad Using Hellfire Missile

MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper may have been used in the attack
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 04:29 AM, February 8, 2024
  • 877
U.S. Drone Strike Targets Kata'ib Hezbollah Commander in Baghdad Using Hellfire Missile
MQ-9 Reaper fires Hellfire missile

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed a drone strike in Iraq, employing a Hellfire missile to target a senior leader of Kata'ib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia group.

The strike, conducted at 9:30 p.m. Baghdad Time on February 7, was a unilateral action in response to attacks on U.S. service members in the region.

The targeted Kata'ib Hezbollah commander was reportedly responsible for planning and participating in direct attacks against U.S. forces. According to the official CENTCOM statement, there are no indications of collateral damage or civilian casualties at this time.

The United States emphasized its commitment to taking necessary actions to protect its personnel and holding accountable those who pose a threat.

The strike employed a variant of the Hellfire missile identified as the R9X, equipped with an inert warhead. While specific details regarding the drone utilized in the operation were not disclosed by U.S. officials, it's noteworthy that American combat drones capable of deploying the Hellfire include the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper.

The drone attack took place in the al-Mashtal neighborhood of east Baghdad, a densely populated area that also houses one of Kata'ib Hezbollah's offices. Videos from the scene showed the aftermath, with a vehicle in flames and explosions heard miles away in the Iraqi capital.

While the U.S. military asserted the precision of the strike, Iraqi military command reported investigating an attack on a civilian car in the same area, resulting in fatalities. The situation prompted security officials in Baghdad to anticipate anti-U.S. demonstrations, with streets near the heavily protected U.S. Embassy being blocked.

The strike adds to the ongoing tensions between the United States and Iran-backed militias in the region. Kata'ib Hezbollah, previously claiming responsibility for multiple attacks on U.S. forces, declared last week that it would no longer target American troops. However, recent events indicate a continuation of hostilities.

Iraq and the United States have initiated negotiations on the future of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, comprising approximately 2,500 U.S. troops. Disagreements persist, with some Iraqi parliament members using the recent strike as further justification for demanding the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

In response to the strike, crowds gathered in the streets of Baghdad, chanting anti-U.S. slogans. Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji, a spokesperson for Iraq's security services, denounced the action as an aggression violating Iraqi sovereignty, raising concerns about potential repercussions in the region.

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