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3 Jan, 2020 23:19

6 killed in airstrike north of Baghdad targeting convoy carrying Shia militia members – report

6 killed in airstrike north of Baghdad targeting convoy carrying Shia militia members – report

A convoy carrying members of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias, was hit by an airstrike while traveling in Baghdad, media reports say. The PMF said that medics were in the cars.

The three-car convoy was struck in the northern outskirts of the Iraqi capital in the district of al-Taji late on Friday, according to an Iraqi military source cited by Reuters. Six militiamen were reportedly killed in the attack, with three others critically injured. It remains unclear who carried out the strike.

An unconfirmed photo of the aftermath of the attack emerged on social media, showing three burning vehicles, two of them overturned.

The six killed in the strike have yet to be named, but early reports suggesting they hit two paramilitary commanders – Shibl al-Zaydi, secretary general of the Kataib al-Imam militia, as well as Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq – were refuted by the PMF in a statement. Instead of senior leaders, the convoy contained medics, the group said.

“Initial sources confirm that the strike targeted a convoy of Popular Mobilisation Forces medics near Taji stadium in Baghdad,” said the statement, cited by Reuters.

The bombing comes on the heels of a US air raid near Baghdad International Airport late Thursday night, which killed Iran’s powerful Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and several top officials in the PMF. Washington argued the strike was “aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” while Tehran slammed the move as an act of “international terrorism” and threatened “crushing revenge.”

Also on rt.com US stock market takes a dive as defense & oil shares soar after Soleimani’s killing in US strike

Though US President Donald Trump insisted the decision was made “to stop a war,” stressing that he didn’t seek “regime change” in Tehran, that interpretation was clearly not shared by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who warned “revenge awaits the criminals who have stained their hands in [Soleimani’s] blood.”

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