According to Iraqi army officials, two drones that were overflying a base housing U.S. troops were shot down at 12:30 a.m. local time.
U.S. C-RAM air defenses were alerted and shot down the drones over the Ain al-Asad airbase. The same base suffered a drone strike on May 8, which caused no casualties.
Colonel Wayne Marotto, the spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, said that U.S. air defense systems had shot down a rocket that was flying toward Baghdad airport several hours earlier. That incident had caused no damage or casualties. Iraqi officials said that they tracked the rocket and in a rural area of western Baghdad found a launcher with a timer that was used in the attack.
This is the 39th attack against United States troops or interests in Iraq since the start of the year. Most of the attacks have been roadside bombs or IEDs against logistics convoys; 14 have been rocket attacks.
While no one has claimed responsibility for this latest attack, militias organized and led by Iran have frequently claimed responsibility for similar attacks against U.S. interests in an attempt to force the United States and the Western coalition to leave the country.
Iran Proxies Emphasize Drone Operations
As SOFREP reported on Saturday, Iran’s Quds Force has created a new elite proxy militia that will specialize in covert actions. This new proxy militia was specially trained last year in drone warfare, surveillance, and online propaganda. It answers directly to senior Quds Force officers. It has a smaller footprint thus giving the Iranians the guise of plausible deniability in their attacks.
This Iranian proxy force was formed in the aftermath of the U.S. drone strike that targeted and killed Quds Force commander MG Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqi commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and a U.S.-designated terrorist.
Iran transported 250 of its most loyal proxy fighters to Lebanon last year to be trained in drone operations, rocket attacks, bomb and IED attacks, and social media publicization by Quds Force troops and Hezbollah terrorists.
Iranian proxies have been responsible for a series of increasingly sophisticated drone attacks against the United States and its allies, according to accounts by Iraqi security officials, militia commanders, and Western diplomatic and military sources.
“The new groups work in secret and their leaders, who are unknown, answer directly to [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] (IRGC) officers,” one Iraqi security official said.
The use of drones against American interests by these proxy militias is a concern for U.S. military officials. As Marine General Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) told reporters earlier this week,
“They believe they can carry out attacks at a fairly low level that won’t provoke a response, yet will create enough friction that will eventually induce us to leave. I think it’s a dangerous situation.”
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who also receive arms and training from Quds Force, also routinely carry out attacks using drones and rockets against Saudi interests, including oil facilities and airports.