Coalition forces injured as US military takes down 3 drones in Iraq10/18/2023
US forces are injured as three drones target Iraqi bases: Iran-backed terrorists claim responsibility amid soaring tensions over Hamas-Israel war
- At least three drones were launched at a base hosting American and coalition forces in Iraq in the last 24 hours
- Coalition forces were minorly injured, according to Central Command
- The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iranian-backed militias, issued a statement afterward claiming responsibility for the two attacks
US forces have been injured after three drones targeted Coalition bases in Iraq in the last 24 hours.
Washington is on heightened alert for activity by Iran-backed groups as regional tensions soar during the Israel-Hamas war.
A U.S. defense official did not say who was suspected of the attacks on the al-Asad air base and the al-Harir air base, but the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iranian-backed militias, issued a statement afterward claiming responsibility for the two attacks and saying it ‘heralds more operations’ against the ‘American occupation.’
The first attack early on Wednesday involved two one-way drones that targeted al-Asad base, two U.S. officials said. One of the drones was intercepted but still managed to explode, causing the minor injuries and damaging some equipment. Some U.S. troops were being evaluated for possible traumatic brain injury, one of the officials said.
The second drone attack targeted the al-Harir air base, which houses U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, according to the U.S. officials, an Iraqi security official and a Western diplomat.
There are 2,500 American troops currently stationed in Iraq
US coalition forces were injured on Wednesday after at least three drones were launched at bases hosting American and ally troops in Iraq in the last 24 hours
The Iraqi semi-autonomous Kurdistan region’s security agency, Kurdistan Counter Terrorism, said the armed drone in the second incident fell in a desert area near the village of Batas in Harir district at 12:18 p.m. Iraq time. It did not elaborate.
Last week, Iraqi armed forces aligned with Iran threatened to target U.S. interests with missiles and drones if Washington intervened to support Israel against Hamas in Gaza.
The Pentagon has rushed air defenses and munitions to Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East, but U.S. forces have not joined the fighting.
Since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas on October 7, much attention has been focused on Hezbollah, the powerful Hamas ally across Israel’s northern border in Lebanon, and its formidable arsenal. The group has traded limited strikes with Israel on the border in recent days.
But Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have also threatened to attack U.S. facilities over American support for Israel.
‘Our missiles, drones, and special forces are ready to direct qualitative strikes at the American enemy in its bases and disrupt its interests if it intervenes in this battle,’ Ahmad ‘Abu Hussein’ al-Hamidawi, head of the Kataib Hezbollah militia, said in a statement last Wednesday. He also threatened to launch missiles at Israeli targets.
The attacks came less than a day after an explosion at a Gaza hospital killed hundreds of Palestinians, raising the stakes for U.S. President Joe Biden as he arrived in Israel on Wednesday to signal support for its war against Hamas.
Palestinian officials said the hospital was hit by an Israeli air strike. Israel denied this, blaming the blast at Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital on a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, which denied responsibility.
The Palestinian Authority’s health minister accused Israel of causing a ‘massacre.’
In Iraq, tension over the war in Gaza had already been high. Its top Shi’ite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, last week condemned Israel and called on the world to stand up to the “terrible brutality” in besieged Gaza.
Leaders of Iraqi armed groups blamed Israel for the attack on the hospital. Some condemned the U.S. for supporting Israel.
Kataib Hezbollah, a powerful armed faction with close ties to Iran, accused the United States of supporting Israel in “killing innocent people” and said it should leave Iraq.
‘These evil people must leave the country, otherwise they will taste the fire of hell in this world before the afterlife,’ the group said in a statement late on Tuesday.
The attacks on Wednesday came as president Joe Biden was in a short visit to Israel.
Biden swept into wartime Israel for an 7 1/2–hour visit Wednesday that produced a heaping dose of support for the Israeli people, a deal to get limited humanitarian aid into Gaza from Egypt and a warning not to allow rage over the deadly Hamas attack to consume them.
The attacks on Wednesday came as president Joe Biden was in a short visit to Israel
‘I understand. Many Americans understand,’ Biden said as he wrapped up his stay in Tel Aviv, likening the Oct. 7 Hamas attack to the attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people. ‘You can’t look at what has happened here … and not scream out for justice,’ he said.
Biden urged Israel to step back from the brink, not just to ease growing tensions in the Mideast that threaten to spiral into a broader regional conflict, but also to reassure a world rattled by images of carnage and suffering, in Israel and Gaza alike. One million people have been displaced in roughly 10 days, according to the United Nations.
The president’s mission was to display resolve for Israel and to diminish the likelihood of a wider war, while providing assurances that he was not overlooking the increasingly dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. But it was not clear how far the trip would take Biden in trying to tamp down volatile Mideast divisions, particularly after his plan collapsed to follow the Israel stop with an Arab leaders summit in Jordan.
The day was full of signature Biden moments as he walked a careful diplomatic line. He doled out embraces to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to first-responders, doctors and victims who witnessed nightmare moments. He spoke quietly of his own history with grief. He told the familiar anecdote about meeting every Israeli prime minister over more than five decades in elected office, starting with Golda Meir in 1973. He quoted an Irish poet.
‘I come to Israel with a single message: You’re not alone,’ Biden said. ‘As long as the United States stands — and we will stand forever — we will not let you ever be alone.’
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