Iraq’s prime minister condemns US strike on a high-ranking militia commander


Iraq has condemned the United States after U.S. forces carried out a drone strike in central Baghdad on Thursday that killed a high-ranking militia commander.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said Friday that the U.S. targeting and killing Mushtaq Taleb al-Saidi — or “Abu Taqwa,” the leader of the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, an Iraqi Shi’ite militant group — was a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

A U.S. defense official confirmed that Thursday’s drone strike on a vehicle containing the militia leader and three other militia members was authorized as he was responsible for recent attacks on U.S. personnel.

Sudani said Friday that the U.S. had bypassed the Iraqi government, which is “the body authorized to impose the law.” In his statement, he also reiterated calls for U.S. troops to withdraw from the country.

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Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani condemned the United States after U.S. forces carried out a drone strike in central Baghdad. (Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

In his statement, Sudani defended Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a coalition of militias that falls under the control of the Iraqi military, as an “official presence affiliated with the state … and an integral part of our armed forces.”

He said that “attacks targeting our security forces go beyond the spirit and letter of the mandate that created the international coalition,” referring to a U.S.-led coalition that helped defeat the Islamic State. The coalition maintains forces in Iraq.

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Sudani said his government would end in the coalition’s withdrawal from Iraq.

Immediately after the drone strike, the PMF similarly condemned “brutal American aggression.”

A burned car

The wreckage of a burnt car is seen outside a building used by Ansar al-Sharia militia after it was torched by residents on Nov. 25, 2013 in Benghazi, Libya. Military governor Colonel Abdullah al-Saidi declared a “state of alert” after Jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia attacked Libyan special forces in Benghazi, sparking an all-out battle in which at least five soldiers died, in what was the first such confrontation between the army and Libya’s top jihadist group. (ABDULLAH DOMA/AFP via Getty Images)

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.”

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The latest clash in Iraq comes as the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, which started on Oct. 7, 2023, has increased tensions in an unstable Middle East and has apparently provoked attacks on U.S. forces in both Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. drone strike came after repeated warnings from the White House and the State Department that vowed retaliation if U.S. forces were intentionally targeted.

Iraqi security forces

Iraqi security forces arrive to inspect the site where Al-Nujaba senior commander Abu Taqwa Al-Saidi was killed in a U.S. drone strike at a logistical support department of Hashd al-Shaabi in Baghdad on Jan. 4, 2024. (Murtadha Al-Sudani/Anadolu via Getty Images)

There have now been at least 121 attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since Oct. 17, including three attacks in the last 48 hours, according to a U.S. defense official.

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Various militia groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks, with most calling for the end to Israel’s military operations in Gaza and for U.S. troops to leave Iraq.

Six others were wounded in Thursday’s strike, according to Reuters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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