U.S. and coalition forces thwarted two separate suicide drone attacks targeting bases housing Americans on Tuesday. One of the thwarted attacks was reportedly caught on video.
BBC correspondent Nafiseh Kohnavard first shared video allegedly from U.S. defensive systems showing a C-RAM shooting down two suicide drones at Al Asad Air Base.
Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby confirmed that U.S. and allied forces shot down two suicide drones attempting to attack Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Tuesday. Forces also conducted “strikes” on targets near Green Village in Syria responsible for launching rockets, though noted the strikes were not airstrikes.
Both Al Asad Air Base and Green Village are installations used by U.S. troops and contractors. Al Asad Air Base is the facility that Iran targeted with a missile attack on Jan. 8, 2020, resulting in more than 100 U.S. troops being injured and diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.
“One of the reasons why these sites were hit was we had reason to believe that they were going to be used as launch sites for attacks on Green Village,” Kirby told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday.
Kohnavard said another rocket attack targeting Americans “landed near ‘Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center’” at Baghdad International Airport early Wednesday local time. The rockets reportedly hit the runway and did not injure anyone.
On Monday, two suicide drones were shot down at Camp Victory, a base formerly used by U.S. troops at the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. A U.S.-led coalition security official told Reuters that “two fixed-wing suicide drones” were shot down after an attempted “dangerous attack on a civilian airport.” One of the drones reportedly had the words “Soleimani’s revenge” written on it.
On Friday, U.S. forces also thwarted a rocket attack against Green Village in Syria.
The attacks come as Iran vowed revenge against the U.S. for the death of prominent Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a U.S. airstrike ordered by then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 3, 2020.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Monday that “Muslims will take our martyr’s revenge” if Trump and then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “are not tried in a fair court for the criminal act of assassinating General Soleimani.”
Kirby said U.S. troops “clearly are at risk in the region,” adding, “we have to take that threat very seriously. We always have the right of self-defense.”
Though Kirby would not officially declare the entity responsible for the attempted attacks on U.S. troops, he noted that the DOD assume that Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria are behind the attacks due to modeling the same “kinds of tactics, techniques, and procedures we’ve seen from these groups in the past.”
The U.S. military has consistently remained under threat from Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq and Syria, even as the U.S. formally shifted from a combat role to an advisory and support role in Iraq.