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HomeUSIraq's Hezbollah Issues New Threat to US and Israel After Officials Killed

Iraq’s Hezbollah Issues New Threat to US and Israel After Officials Killed

A representative of a well-armed Iran-backed militia in Iraq has issued a new warning to the United States and Israel after at least two of its officials were reportedly killed in a U.S. strike in Baghdad.
It comes amid worsening Middle East violence on the sidelines of the ongoing war in Gaza.
U.S. Central Command took responsibility on Wednesday for what it called “a unilateral strike in Iraq in response to the attacks on U.S. service members, killing a Kata’ib Hezbollah commander responsible for directly planning and participating in attacks on U.S. forces in the region.”
“There are no indications of collateral damage or civilian casualties at this time,” CENTCOM added. “The United States will continue to take necessary action to protect our people. We will not hesitate to hold responsible all those who threaten our forces’ safety.”
Channels affiliated with Kataib Hezbollah identified two of the slain as support officer Abu Baqir al-Saadi and intelligence operative Arkan al-Aliawi in an apparent drone strike in Baghdad. In response, a representative of Kataib Hezbollah warned that the group maintained an arsenal capable of striking beyond Iraq, including targets in neighboring Jordan, and as far away as Israel’s Mediterranean coast and its Karesh gas field.
“Our drones and missiles began from Ain Al Asad, have reached Jordan to Haifa, to Karesh, and will reach anywhere we want at any time we want,” the Kataib Hezbollah representative told Newsweek.
Security forces gather around a vehicle hit by a drone strike, reportedly killing three people, including two leaders of Kataib Hezbollah, in Baghdad on February 7, 2024. Security forces gather around a vehicle hit by a drone strike, reportedly killing three people, including two leaders of Kataib Hezbollah, in Baghdad on February 7, 2024. MURTAJA LATEEF/AFP/Getty Images
An official statement released by Kataib Hezbollah Secretary-General Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi mourned Saadi, whose real name was identified as Wissam Mohammed Saber, but did not broadcast any immediate plans for retaliation.
Another leading Iraqi militia, the Nujaba Movement, also known as the Hezbollah Al-Nujaba Movement, issued a more ominous response to what it called a direct attack on Iraq’s sovereignty given Saadi’s stated position in not only Kataib Hezbollah, but the Iraqi state-sponsored Popular Mobilization Forces paramilitary coalition, of which both Kataib Hezbollah and the Nujaba Movement are a part.
“O heroic resistors, you who are fighting the brutal occupier, this is your time and this is your battle,” the group said. “By God, then by God, it is only one death. Let it be with honor and dignity. Let our revenge for the blood of the martyrs be retaliation against America, its agents, partners and interests. Let this be our path and our primary cause from now on.”
The group also also appeared to issue an ultimatum to Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s administration.
“If there is not a strict and resolute official position from the Iraqi government, our response will be focused, God willing, and these crimes will not go unpunished, and you will know at the time,” the group stated. “Our patience has run out, wait for the response, and we will choose the appropriate time and place.”
Newsweek has reached out to U.S. Central Command and Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces for comment.
Kataib Hezbollah and the Nujaba Movement are also leading participants in the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which is comprised of a number of Iraqi militias affiliated with the broader Iran-aligned “Axis of Resistance.” The coalition has regularly conducted rocket and drone attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since mid-October, shortly after a surprise attack led by the Palestinian Hamas movement against Israel sparked the deadliest-ever war in Gaza that continues to rage on four months later.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has also claimed a number of attacks against Israel itself, as has fellow “Axis of Resistance” affiliate Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthis. Based in Yemen, the group has also launched a wave of attacks against merchant vessels operating in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, drawing several rounds of joint U.S.-U.K. airstrikes, the most recent of which was conducted on Tuesday.
While the U.S. had also responded to attacks against its personnel in Iraq and Syria with several rounds of airstrikes in recent months, the deaths of three U.S. soldiers in a drone strike at the Jordan-Syria border late last month drew outrage in Washington. Last Friday, President Joe Biden ordered dozens of airstrikes against seven facilities in Iraq and Syria said to be used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and militias affiliated with the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.
The White House asserted at the time that it planned to conduct additional operations in a bid to deter further attacks on its personnel in the region.
Kataib Hezbollah, which had earlier announced a suspension of anti-U.S. operations in the wake of the deadly drone attack on the Iraq-Syria border, condemned the strikes, but it did not immediately announce any resumption of operations against U.S. forces.
Reports of new attacks attributed to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq have persisted, however, including one drone strike that the U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said killed six of its fighters at the Al-Omar oil field in the Deir Ezzor province of eastern Syria on Monday.
The Iraqi and Syrian governments have both condemned U.S. military operations conducted on their territory without permission. For Baghdad, the issue has been particularly sensitive as the government traditionally coordinates with Washington as part of a bilateral security partnership forged in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew President Saddam Hussein in 2003.
This relationship has grown strained, however, as worsening tensions between the U.S. and Iran have led to clashes between U.S. forces and Iraqi militias that have threatened to destabilize a country still reeling from the successful campaign against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), which both Washington and Tehran led efforts to defeat.
A new cycle of violence sparked by the Israel-Hamas war and retaliatory U.S. strikes has given rise to resurgent calls to expel U.S. troops from Iraq through diplomacy or force. The unrest also came as U.S. and Iraqi officials discussed a “transition” to a new framework of security cooperation, though the Pentagon has maintained that it had no plans of withdrawing U.S. soldiers altogether.
The attack appeared to further rile tempers across Baghdad, where crowds gathered in protest at the site of at least one vehicle seen in flames. Anger also seethed in Gaza, where a number of Palestinian factions on the frontlines of the war with Israel issued condemnations.
“We consider it an assault and violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and security, and a service to the agenda of the Zionist occupation and its expansionist projects,” Hamas said in a statement.
The group offered its condolences and warned that it held “the administration of American President Biden responsible for the escalation in the region, through its supply and support for the Nazi war of genocide against our Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip,” and renewed its “affirmation that the region will not witness stability or peace except by ending the Zionist occupation of our occupied Palestinian and Arab lands.”
This is a developing story. More information will be added as it becomes available.

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