Two explosive-laden drones were shot down on Monday near a base in Iraq housing U.S. troops.
An official of the U.S.-led international military coalition in Iraq, known as Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), confirmed the base’s defense system engaged “two fixed-wing suicide drones,” in a statement provided to Reuters. The official said the drones “were shot down without incident.”
No group has claimed responsibility yet for the attempted attack. The incident comes on the two-year anniversary of the U.S. strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani as he traveled in Baghdad. Iran has vowed revenge for the attack and Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary groups have increasingly been using explosive-laden drones to target U.S. and coalition bases in Iraq.
A Twitter user shared photographs of the downed drones. “Correction & more pix. Two ‘Suicide Drones’ aimed at Baghdad airport, housing US-led coalition, were shot down by US def system, C-RAM at around 0430 this morning. On the wings it’s written: ‘Leader’s revenge’ & ‘Soleimani’s revenge.'”
Soleimani was killed with a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3, 2020, as he entered Baghdad. He was killed while traveling alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of Iraq’s pro-Iranian Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Both leaders were killed in the U.S. strike.
The Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, a subgroup of the PMF, was behind a rocket attack on a U.S. base in Iraq in late December of 2019 that killed a U.S. contractor and injured four U.S. service members. The U.S. responded to the rocket attack with airstrikes, killing 25 militants and wounding at least 51 more.
The Kata’ib Hezbollah militia vowed revenge for the U.S. airstrikes and supporters of the PMF took part in a riotous attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Dec. 31, 2019, three days prior to Soleimani’s death. Then-President Donald Trump said Soleimani was plotting a further attack on the embassy when Trump ordered the drone strike that killed the Iranian general.
Supporters of Soleimani gathered outside the Baghdad airport on Sunday to commemorate his death.
“*Baghdad airport right now – Remembering Martyr Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-muhandis*,” a Twitter user posted, with photos from the gathering.
On Dec. 9, 2021, CJTF-OIR announced that the U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq had officially transitioned from a combat role to a non-combat mission. CJTF-OIR’s mission has been to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as Daesh or ISIS.