US drone strike kills high-ranking Iran-backed militia commander in Baghdad

The strike in the east of Iraq's capital killed members of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah militia, including a commander

Three Iran-backed high-ranking militia members have been killed in Baghdad after an US airstrike on a car, local officials have said.

The strike in the east of Iraq's capital killed members of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah militia, including a commander.

Two officials with Iran-backed militias in Iraq said that one of the three killed was Wissam Mohammed “Abu Bakr” al-Saadi, the commander in charge of Kataib Hezbollah’s operations in Syria.

Security forces closed off the heavily guarded Green Zone, home to a number of diplomatic compounds, following calls for protesters to storm the US embassy.

The airstrike comes amid increased tensions in the Middle East as the US military has launched air assaults on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in response to a drone strike that killed three US soldiers in Jordan in January.

The US has blamed the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which is a broad coalition of Iran-backed militias, for the attack in Jordan, and officials have said they suspect Kataib Hezbollah in particular of having led it.

Iraqis gather at the site of a burned vehicle targeted by a US drone strike in east Baghdad. Credit: AP

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has regularly claimed responsibility for strikes on US troop bases in Iraq and Syria, against the backdrop of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

They have said they are retaliating against Washington's support of Israel in its war in Gaza, which has left more than 27,000 Palestinians dead, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

Kataib Hezbollah had said in a statement that it was suspending attacks on American troops to avoid “embarrassing the Iraqi government” after the strike in Jordan, but others have vowed to continue fighting.

On Sunday, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed a drone attack on a base housing US troops in eastern Syria killed six fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led group allied with the United States.

The latest incidents in the region come after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he had rejected Hamas' demands for a ceasefire.

He vowed to press ahead with military action in Gaza until his country achieved "absolute victory".

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