The United States is finally moving some air defense systems into place in Iraq after bases that house U.S. troops have been attacked with rocket and missile fire for months. The Pentagon didn’t specify which bases the air defense systems will be deployed to. 

However, Al Jazeera reported that according to Iraqi and U.S. military sources that a Patriot missile battery was placed at Ain al-Assad in western Iraq and is now being close to operational. Another battery is reportedly being placed in Erbil, at a base in the Kurdish region, while two more batteries are still in Kuwait. 

Ain al-Assad was one of the bases that were attacked by Iranian proxies after the U.S. took out Iranian Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani with a missile attack in Baghdad in January. 

According to a report by Fox News, the military is deploying Patriot surface-to-air missiles and variants of the Navy’s SeaRAM and CIWS weapon system to help protect the troops. 

Meanwhile, Iran, which controls the proxy forces that have been attacking the bases called the purely defensive weapons “warmongering during the coronavirus outbreak” and warned that the American military activities in the region could lead it to “instability and disaster.”

Iran’s foreign ministry released a statement that said that the U.S. deployment runs “counter to the official position of the Iraqi government, parliament, and people.” American forces should “respect the wishes of the Iraqi people and government and leave the country”, the Iranian foreign ministry added.

U.S. leaders fear that Iran, suffering from a mounting death toll with the coronavirus outbreak, may use this timing to launch an attack.

The Iranians announced that there were an additional 138 deaths due to the coronavirus on Wednesday and claim that they’ve had only 3,036 deaths in total. Most analysts believe that number to be extremely low.