Iraq’s Kataeb Hezbollah issued a scathing rebuke towards the United States on Friday, denouncing recent airstrikes carried out in the region, including one that resulted in the death of a senior commander within the group. The drone strike, which occurred on Wednesday evening in Baghdad, targeted Abu Baqir al-Saadi, whom the US military accused of orchestrating and participating in attacks against US forces in the Middle East.
These strikes come in the wake of a series of military actions undertaken by Washington in Iraq and Syria over the past week, targeting elite Iranian forces and pro-Tehran militias. The retaliation was sparked by a drone strike on January 28, which claimed the lives of three US military personnel in Jordan. Since mid-October, there has been a surge in rocket and drone attacks launched by pro-Iranian armed groups against US and international coalition forces combating jihadist extremism in Iraq and Syria.
In a statement, Kataeb Hezbollah attributed the loss of their commanders and fighters to the actions of the United States and those who support or impede the withdrawal of American occupying forces from Iraq. The group affirmed its unwavering commitment to avenging the blood of its martyrs and emphasized its readiness for further conflict.
The escalation in hostilities has seen over 165 attacks targeting US troops in Iraq and Syria since mid-October, coinciding with the onset of the Israel-Hamas conflict. The majority of these assaults have been claimed by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an alliance of Iran-backed factions, including Kataeb Hezbollah, incensed by US backing for Israel.
Designated as a terrorist organization by Washington, Kataeb Hezbollah has been subjected to sanctions and multiple strikes by the US military. American officials have linked the recent attack in Jordan to Kataeb Hezbollah, heightening tensions between the two parties. In response to the loss of its soldiers, the United States has vowed reprisals, prompting Kataeb Hezbollah to announce the suspension of operations against US forces at the end of January.
Amidst rising discontent over repeated US military actions, Baghdad has announced the resumption of talks with Washington on Sunday to address the future of the coalition’s presence in Iraq. Iraq’s government has been vocal in its calls for the departure of foreign troops in recent weeks, emphasizing its sovereignty and the need for a reassessment of the international coalition’s role. Since 2014, the United States has maintained approximately 2,500 troops in Iraq, initially deployed to combat the Islamic State group at the request of the Iraqi government.