Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shia militia, has announced the death of a fighter from suspected United States strikes that were carried out last night in the areas around Ramadi and Abu Ghraib.
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.
So far the Pentagon has not commented on or claimed responsibility for the strikes, which appear to have targeted several militia targets. If confirmed, this would mark the first retaliatory strikes in Iraq by the United States against Iran-backed militia elements, who have carried out dozens of attacks against American forces in the region over the past few weeks.
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
Reports from last night initially suggested a drone strike was carried out against a Kataib Hezbollah vehicle in Abu Ghraib, however, it appears now that the strikes could have been carried out by a USAF AC-130J Ghostrider gunship that was airborne over the area at the time of the strikes.
Likewise, reports of counter anti-air fire by local sources may have been mistaken for fire coming from the gunship.
One thing that is important to note is that the aircraft was visible on commercial ADSB systems, marking a very rare public showing of an aircraft usually involved in clandestine operations. Whether or not the aircraft actually engaged targets last night, its public presence alone was likely meant to send a strong message to Iran-backed militia elements.