Two armed drones were shot down as they approached a base near Baghdad’s international airport containing U.S. forces on Monday, Iraqi security sources told Reuters.
The base’s defense system engaged “two fixed-wing suicide drones,” an official of the U.S.-led international military coalition told Reuters. Both were downed “without incident” and no injuries were sustained.
“This was a dangerous attack on a civilian airport,” the coalition official said in a statement, Reuters reported.
No group claimed immediate responsibility for the attack, but it occurred on the two-year anniversary of the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was killed by a drone strike near the Baghdad airport under the Trump administration.
Footage given to Reuters by the coalition official showed what the official said was the debris of the drones that were shot down. “Soleimani’s revenge” was clearly visible on the wing of one drone, the outlet reported.
Hundreds of supporters of Iran-backed militia groups gathered on Sunday at the Baghdad airport to commemorate Soleimani’s death, Reuters reported. Armed groups that a number of Iraqi officials purport to be backed by Iran have reportedly orchestrated similar attacks in the past.
Soleimani was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the Pentagon said he was “actively developing plans” to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq at the time of his assassination. Iranian Gen. Esmail Ghaani, who succeeded Soleimani, vowed to respond to “American mischief” in January 2020 after the U.S. military flew B-52 strategic bombers over the Persian Gulf.
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