U.S. drone strike kills a leader of an Iran-backed militia in Iraq

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People, rescuers and security forces gather around a vehicle hit by a drone strike, reportedly killing three people, including two leaders of a pro-Iran group, in Baghdad on Wednesday.

Murtaja Lateef/AFP via Getty Images

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Murtaja Lateef/AFP via Getty Images

People, rescuers and security forces gather around a vehicle hit by a drone strike, reportedly killing three people, including two leaders of a pro-Iran group, in Baghdad on Wednesday.

Murtaja Lateef/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike in Baghdad killed at least one leader of an Iran-backed militia on Wednesday, the Pentagon said.

In a nighttime attack Wednesday, the U.S. military “conducted 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,” Central Command said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

Local videos and images taken at the scene in the Iraqi capital showed a car in flames.

The Iraqi military command said earlier it was investigating the targeting of a civilian vehicle in Baghdad’s Mashtal neighborhood. It said the attack set the car on fire and killed the passengers.

The U.S. military said “There are no indications of collateral damage or civilian casualties at this time.”

Officials have not named victims as of this writing. But a channel affiliated with Kataib Hezbollah on the Telegram messaging platform said two leaders were killed.

Kataib Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. But the group said last week it would no longer target U.S. troops, just before American warplanes hit militias sites in both Iraq and Syria.

This latest drone strike on a busy Baghdad street will likely put more political pressure on the Iraqi government which has pushed for the 2,500 U.S. troops to leave the country.

NPR’s Jane Arraf and Tom Bowman contributed reporting.