A convoy believed to be carrying members of one of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) units was hit by a suspected airstrike in northern Baghdad during the early morning hours (local time) of Saturday, January 4. According to initial reports, at least six people were killed in the strike in Taji. US military officials told media reporters that the operation was targeting the leader of the Imam Ali Brigades. As of Saturday morning, it is unclear if the group’s leader was killed. Details are still emerging.
Tensions significantly increased in Iraq on Friday, January 3, after the US claimed responsibility for killing Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iran's Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) in an airstrike. According to the statement, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike along with six other individuals.
Individuals in Baghdad, and Iraq more generally, are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid the affected area, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.