At approximately 0430 local time, a suspected United States drone strike targeted a vehicle located west of Baghdad in an area along the Abu Ghairb highway.
Multiple explosions reported in Khan Dhari, Iraq. Initial reports claim an airstrike against an unknown target. pic.twitter.com/BE7CwS5Zcc
— Joe Truzman (@JoeTruzman) November 21, 2023
While the identity of the vehicle and its passengers remains unclear at this time, initial reports suggest that it is affiliated to Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shia militia force in Iraq.
Kataib Hezbollah is most notable for its involvement in the 2020 siege of the American embassy in Baghdad, which ultimately set off a chain of events that ended in the killing of IRGC General Qassam Soleimani and Iranian rocket barrage against American forces at the al-Asad Airbase.
?? AC-130J Ghostrider 18-5886 #AE6201 made many very visible flight tracks around the time it was reported that there were airstrikes occurring in Iraq.
I feel like this is unprecedented: I've never seen an aircraft likely involved carry out a sortie. Publicly. pic.twitter.com/IsFMwycj2b
— Evergreen Intel (@vcdgf555) November 21, 2023
Over the next hour following the strike, a USAF AC-130J gunship was airborne over Ramadi and Abu Ghraib. The aircraft was visible on commercial ADSB systems, marking a very rare public showing of an aircraft usually involved in clandestine operations.
The AC-130J sortie also coincided with other mixed reports of additional strikes and potential militia anti-aircraft gunfire, which could also be mistaken for fire from the gunship. However, it remains unknown and unconfirmed at this time if the AC-130J engaged any targets at all.