Fatal Airstrike in Baghdad Was Necessary, Pentagon Says

Militia commander was killed, even as US tries to ease tensions in Middle East
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2024 6:50 PM CST
Fatal Airstrike in Baghdad Was Necessary, Pentagon Says
Members of an Iraqi Shiite militant group carry the coffin of a fighter who was killed in a US airstrike on Thursday in Baghdad.   (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

The Pentagon defended an airstrike in Baghdad that killed a militia commander linked to Iran on Thursday, though the attack runs the risk of undercutting the Biden administration's efforts to keep the Israel-Hamas war from spreading in the Middle East. The strike was "necessary and proportionate," a Defense Department statement said, adding that Mushtaq Jawad Al-Saidi, who was known as Abu Taqwa, helped plan and execute attacks against Americans. The Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba militia said he was killed at a logistical support headquarters in the central section of the city, the Washington Post reports. The Pentagon said an unnamed associate of his also was killed.

An Iraqi military spokesman said the army blames the US-led International Coalition Forces for the "unprovoked attack," per the AP. The militia is overseen by the Iraqi army; the coalition's main role is to fight the Islamic State. The government said the US attack was a "flagrant violation of the sovereignty and security of Iraq," per the New York Times, "no different from a terrorist act." The airstrike could increase pressure on Iraq to remove the coalition, per the Post. "It's an indication that peace is not lasting," said Sarah Jamal, 27, who lives near the attack site in Baghdad. "It started in Syria, then Lebanon, then Iran and now here. We're being dragged into this, and we have no say." (More US military stories.)

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