A top pro-Iran militia commander named Taleb Abbas Ali al-Saedi was shot at the Shi'ite holy city of Karbala, in Iraq, late Saturday night. Another Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) commander Abu Mahdi al-Mahandis was killed along with top Iranian military commander, Qasem Soleimani, in a US drone strike at Baghdad International Airport, on January 3.

The attack heightened hostility between Tehran and Washington and brought both countries at the brink of a major escalation.

Top pro-Iran militia commander killed in Iraq

Taleb Abbas Ali al-Saedi
Taleb Abbas Ali al-Saedi Twitter

The top leader of pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) was killed by unarmed gunmen at Karbala, located 100 km south-west of Iraqi capital Baghdad.

PMF is an umbrella organization consisting of the Shi'ite militia. The organization is one of the major forces fighting ISIS in Iraq and alongside troops in Syria, loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Al-Saedi belonged to the Karbala Brigades, a unit within PMF.

No details are available about the gunmen, Dailymail reported US Central Command, which oversees American military activity in the Middle East, hasn't issued any statement on the assassination.

American crackdown on Iranian and pro-Iranian commanders

On January 3, Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed along with PMF leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport. Later information emerged that America 'unsuccessfully' tried to assassinate another Iranian commander Abdul Reza Shahlai, in an airstrike at Yemen, on the same day it killed Soleimani and al-Muhandis.

Iran retaliated by firing more than a dozen missiles at Iraqi military bases of Al-Assad and Erbil, which house American and coalition troops. No American was harmed in the attack. In the fog of war, Iran "unintentionally" shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing all 176 onboard. Iran has apologized for the mistake, but the downing of the plane, which killed Iranian and foreign nationals, has led to protests in Iran, calling for Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini to step down.