A US drone strike in Baghdad killed a senior militia leader on Thursday, marking another significant escalation that could lead to a full-blown regional war.
The strike killed Mushtaq Talib al-Saidi, also known as Abu Taqwa, a deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) operations in Baghdad. The PMF is a coalition of mostly Shia Iraqi militias that are part of the government’s security forces.
At least one other militia member was killed in the strike, which targeted a PMF base in Baghdad. Later on Thursday, the Pentagon confirmed it was responsible for the bombing.
The Pentagon claims Abu Taqwa was believed to be responsible for attacks on US bases in Iraq and Syria that started in October in response to US support for Israel’s onslaught in Gaza, but the US has not provided any evidence for the assertion.
The drone strike has enraged the Iraqi government, which condemned it as a “flagrant violation of the sovereignty and security of Iraq” and said it was “no different from a terrorist act.”
The US has launched several rounds of airstrikes in Iraq since October, all of which have been strongly condemned by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, the US’s supposed partner in the country.
Al-Sudani’s government has also condemned the attacks on US bases in Iraq but wants to work to find the perpetrators and strongly opposes the unilateral US airstrikes and extra-judicial killings.
Al-Sudani said last week that his government was “heading towards” ending the presence of foreign forces in Iraq, which includes 2,500 US troops. Iraq’s parliament voted to expel US troops back in 2020 following the US drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and PMF leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, but the US has refused to leave.