Iranian proxy militias are becoming bolder. Early on Wednesday, a rocket attack hit Ain al-Asad airbase, Iraqi officials reported. The Ain al-Asad airbase hosts both U.S. and international coalition forces. On Monday the base was hit again by three rockets and a drone.
Military facilities near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad were also the target of a drone attack. According to the Jerusalem Post, three drones targeted the Union III site near the embassy. There are no reports of injuries or damage.
Meanwhile, a drone attack targeted the airport at Erbil, which also houses U.S. troops. A group that calls itself Saraya Awliya al-Dam, claimed the attack. Saraya Awliya al-Dam is part of the Iranian-aligned “Axis of Resistance.”
Social Media Disinformation
Social media accounts that support these groups showed video footage of the rockets and missiles hitting the airport. One message claims that a drone strike targeted a safe house at a hotel near the Salah al-Din resort used by the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, and killed a number of people.
“If the enemy does not admit its losses, we will tell him the number of Zionists who were killed in the Erbil operation tonight,” a statement said. Yet, the U.S. denies that any casualties occurred.
“We are aware of reporting of [an unmanned aircraft system] incident in the vicinity of Erbil, Iraq,” Pentagon Spokesperson Commander Jessica McNulty said to Fox News. “At this time, initial reports indicate no structural damage, injuries or casualties.”
McNulty declined to answer how many U.S. troops are located at Erbil but added that there are 2,500 troops spread out across many Iraqi military facilities.
Earlier on Tuesday night, Army Colonel Wayne Marotto, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement that “At approximately 11:15 pm local time, one [unmanned aerial system] impacted in vicinity of Erbil Air Base, Iraq. At this time initial reports indicate no injuries, casualties, or damage.”
“We will update when we have further information,” he added.
Thus far, the Iraqi government has been silent on what was “an attack on their sovereignty” as they had claimed after a U.S. airstrike late in June on the Iranian-led militias Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyed al-Shuhada.
The U.S. airstrikes struck positions along both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border, targeting what was described by the Pentagon as facilities “utilized by Iranian-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq.”
Attacks Against US Interests Expected to Increase
Iranian proxy attacks have been increasing. Since July 4, the weekly attacks have become daily as the proxies sense Washington’s weakness and are trying to push the U.S. out of the Middle East as well.
Since President Biden’s inauguration in January, there have been about 50 attacks against U.S. installations. And under the tenure of the new hardline Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, attacks are expected to increase.
On Monday, the Associated Press sat down with Abu Alaa al-Walae, the Commander of the Kataib Sayyed al-Shuhada, for an interview. The interview was remarkable not only for what al-Walae said but also for what he didn’t say.
Kataib Sayyed al-Shuhada supposedly falls under the auspices of the Iraqi military. Nonetheless, al-Walae didn’t mention the Iraqi military at all in his interview. Instead, he kept referring to how the election of Raisi will bolster the Iranian-proxy groups’ strength throughout the Middle East for the next four years. Pointedly, he stated that it will be “the best of times.” He then threatened the U.S. troops in the region.
“We want it to be an operation in which everyone says they have taken revenge on the Americans,” al-Walae said. “It will be a qualitative operation [that could come] from the air, the sea, along Iraq’s border, in the region, or anywhere. It’s an open war.”
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