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Iraqi air base hosting US troops targeted in drone attack

The Hill logo The Hill 5/8/2021 Celine Castronuovo
a man riding on top of a sandy beach: Iraqi air base hosting US troops targeted in drone attack © Getty Iraqi air base hosting US troops targeted in drone attack

An Iraqi air base that hosts U.S. troops was the target of a drone attack early Saturday, though no injuries or deaths were reported.

A spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq tweeted Saturday morning announcing the attack at Ain al-Asad air base, saying it was carried out by an "unmanned aerial surveillance system."

The spokesperson, Col. Wayne Marotto, noted that initial reports indicated damage to a hangar but that no injuries were reported. He said the incident was under investigation.

An Iraqi military statement also confirmed the attack, according to The Associated Press.

Marotto tweeted Saturday that "each attack" against coalition forces "undermines the authority of Iraqi institutions, the rule of law and Iraqi national sovereignty."

The Hill has reached out to the Pentagon for more information.

While it was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, with drone strikes less common in the country, the U.S. has accused Iran-back militia groups of being behind past attacks targeting American troops in Iraq.

Video: Drone attack targets Iraqi base that houses US troops (FOX News)

The attacks, most with rockets, have continued since the U.S. under the Trump administration ordered the drone strike attack that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani last year, further escalating tensions in the region.

Saturday's drone attack comes days after the White House disclosed Trump-era rules on counterterrorism operations outside war zones, including commando attacks and drone strikes.

Under the rules, commanders were allowed to launch attacks if there was "near certainty" no harm would come to civilians, though exceptions to this were permitted "where necessary."

The Biden administration in January mandated that the White House itself authorize operations outside war zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

While U.S. troops remain in Iraq, the Biden administration has begun its complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that sparked America's longest war.

The withdrawal has sparked concerns among Republicans and some Democrats who argue that the Taliban will likely soon regain control over Afghanistan without a U.S.-military presence, which could then allow al Qaeda to regain strength.

The air base attack also comes amid tensions in the region as the Biden administration aims to reenter the Iran nuclear agreement.


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