Iraq has denounced a US drone strike in Baghdad that killed a commander of an Iran-aligned group, saying the United States-led military coalition in the country is becoming a “factor for instability”.
Army spokesperson Yahya Rasool said on Thursday that repeated attacks by the US in Iraq are pushing the government to end the coalition’s mission. The US has conducted frequent attacks, targeting Iran-backed armed groups that it said were behind missile and drone strikes on its troops in Iraq and Syria.
On Wednesday night, a senior commander from Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed armed group in Iraq that the Pentagon linked to an attack that killed three US soldiers in Jordan, died in a drone strike on a vehicle in eastern Baghdad, security sources said.
The vehicle targeted was used by Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces, which includes dozens of armed groups, many of them close to Iran.
Rasool said the US-led coalition “has become a factor for instability and threatens to entangle Iraq in the cycle of conflict”. US forces are “repeatedly and irresponsibly” carrying out a “clear-cut assassination operation”, he said, adding that such strikes fail to “care about the lives of civilians and international law”. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was “bombing targets around the region not to fuel escalation but to prevent escalation”, according to Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi, reporting from the US capital.
“It’s caused clearly a lot of questions because the escalation we’ve seen around the region is directly correlated and quite openly blamed on the Israeli bombardment of Gaza,” Rattansi said. “But the one thing the US won’t do is try and stop Israel from bombing Gaza.” Rasool said the US strikes are even more concerning because “the coalition consistently deviates from the reasons and objectives for its presence on our territory”.
Act of state terrorism, says Iran
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani has condemned Wednesday’s US drone strike in Baghdad that killed a Kataib Hezbollah commander as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a “clear example of American state terrorism”.
A military spokesperson for Iraqi Prime Minister Shia al-Sudani also accused the US of acting “to entangle Iraq in the cycle of conflict”. (Agencies)