Iraqi Kurdistan says 2 drones targeting US-led anti-jihadist coalition shot down

Third UAV crashes into ground at base in Erbil airport; US Defense Department source says no injuries or damage caused; no group immediately claims attack

Illustrative: US Army soldiers stand outside their armored vehicle on a joint base with the Iraqi army, south of Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 23, 2017. (Khalid Mohammed/AP)
Illustrative: US Army soldiers stand outside their armored vehicle on a joint base with the Iraqi army, south of Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 23, 2017. (Khalid Mohammed/AP)

Three drones on Tuesday targeted a military base at Erbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan that plays host to troops from the US-led anti-jihadist coalition, local officials said.

On Tuesday morning, “at two different points, three drones attacked the international coalition,” the anti-terrorism service of the autonomous region of Kurdistan said in a statement.

In the first attack “on the military base at Erbil airport, two drones were shot down,” the service said.

Subsequently, a third drone crashed to the ground without exploding, it said.

An official in the US Department of Defense told AFP under condition of anonymity that the attack had led to “no casualties or damage to infrastructure, according to the latest reporting.”

Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war last month, a series of rocket and drone attacks have targeted military bases hosting US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria. The war was sparked by the Palestinian terror group’s October 7 shock assault on southern Israel ,when thousands of terrorists killed 1,400 people, a majority of them civilians, and abducted some 240, including children and elderly people. Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas and remove it from power in Gaza.

Since October 17, US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria had been targeted by drone or rocket attacks 38 times, injuring 45 US personnel, according to the Pentagon.

A handout picture released by Iraq’s Prime Minister’s Media Office on November 5, 2023 shows Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani, right, meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Baghdad. (Iraq’s Prime Minister’s Media Office/AFP)

In a visit to Baghdad on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the attacks, which Washington has linked back to Iran, were “totally unacceptable.”

Most of the attacks have been claimed by a group known as “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” according to Telegram channels affiliated with Iraqi factions close to Tehran.

Some 2,500 American troops are deployed in Iraq and another 900 in Syria, as part of the international anti-jihadist coalition that was established in 2014.

In Iraq, the coalition says its role is limited to advising and supporting local counterparts.

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