Iranian proxy group claims responsibility for murder of US citizen

BAGHDAD, Iraq – An armed group known as Ashab al-Kahf ‘Companions of the Cave,’ an Iraqi Shia militant group seen as a proxy of Iran, claimed responsibility for the killing of US citizen Stephen Edward Troell in the capital Baghdad on Monday.

In a statement, the militia group claimed the US citizen was killed in revenge for the killing of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, both of whom were killed in a US air strike near Baghdad airport in January 2020.

How was Troell killed?

According to reports, Troell was shot on Monday night in Baghdad’s Karada neighborhood, then taken to Zayed Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

The shooting occurred while Troell was driving a white Prado on the street. According to reports, two gunmen opened fire on him from a Tahoe and a black Mercedes.

According to Iraqi police, Troell was an English language teacher. Initially, the gunmen tried to kidnap him, but failed and shot him.

Who are the Ashab al-Kahf group?

The group responsible for the killing of the US citizen is a vague group whose identity remains a mystery. An article by al-Arabiya reports they are just “soldiers” who execute the agenda of a group known as the Resistance Front, which opposes the presence of the US in Iraq.

They first spoke in 2019, but began attacking in March 2020. They blew up a convoy of US troops and fired a missile at the US Embassy in Baghdad in October 2020.

In the aftermath of the killings of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the militia began targeting convoys carrying logistical support for US forces, even those withdrawing from Iraq at the time.

Reactions after killing Troell

Following the announcement of the US citizen murder, political and security authorities responded. Upon recommendation by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani, the Iraqi government immediately formed an investigation committee.

During his remarks on Tuesday about the murder, the Iraqi Prime Minister said security issues are a red line, and the killing of the US citizen is suspicious.

In a statement, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry expressed condolences to the family of the deceased and promised to investigate the case and contact security authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

In a statement, the US Embassy to Iraq confirmed the death of the US citizen, saying they were closely monitoring the local authorities’ investigation of the cause of death.

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