IAF fighter jets down three drones launched at Israel by Iran-backed Iraqi militia

Two UAVs shot down near southernmost city Eilat; third intercepted in north, causing shrapnel to strike Safed area; no injuries

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

An Israeli fighter jet is seen firing a flare over southern Lebanon on May 16, 2024. (Menahem Kahana / AFP)
An Israeli fighter jet is seen firing a flare over southern Lebanon on May 16, 2024. (Menahem Kahana / AFP)

Three drones launched at Israel by an Iran-backed militia in Iraq were shot down by Israeli fighter jets on Thursday night and early Friday morning, the military said.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq — a loose formation of armed groups affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces, itself a coalition of former paramilitary forces integrated into Iraq’s regular armed forces — has claimed dozens of drone attacks on Israel amid the ongoing war, with the IDF reporting downing many of them. Many of the militia’s claims have been exaggerated, but in one case it managed to hit an Israeli Navy base in Eilat, causing damage.

In one incident, on Thursday night, the Israel Defense Forces said two “suspicious aerial targets” — later confirmed to be drones — that were heading toward Eilat from the “eastern direction” were downed by fighter jets.

No sirens sounded, as the suspected drones were downed outside Israeli airspace, according to the IDF.

Shortly after the incident, the militia took credit for the attack, claiming to have launched two drones at a “vital target” in Israel’s southernmost city.

Then in the pre-dawn hours of Friday, the military said that fighter jets shot down another unmanned aircraft approaching northern Israel from the east.

The third drone also did not enter Israeli airspace, according to the IDF.

Part of an interceptor missile used to down the drone, impacted in the northern city of Safed, sparking a fire. The IDF said the incident was under investigation. There were no injuries.

Shortly after the IDF said it had downed a third drone, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq took responsibility, saying it launched a drone at the Haifa port.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq said the attacks were in support of Gaza, given Israel’s war there against the Hamas terror group.

On Monday, three drones launched by the militia were downed by fighter jets and a Sa’ar 4.5-class missile ship, according to the IDF.

Amid the ongoing war, Iran-backed groups in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria, have claimed to have launched dozens of drones at Israel. Iran itself also carried out an unprecedented attack on Israel last month with hundreds of drones and missiles.

Most Popular
read more: