Iraq: Explosive drone shot down at Erbil airbase hosting US forces

Iraq: Explosive drone shot down at Erbil airbase hosting US forces
The drone targeted Harir Airbase near Erbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan, which hosts US-led coalition forces
2 min read
02 January, 2024
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack near Erbil [Getty]

A drone targeting US-led coalition forces at Erbil International Airport was intercepted and shot down early on Tuesday, authorities in the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq said.

The drone targeted Harir Airbase near Erbil airport, which hosts US forces who lead the international coalition against IS.

The Directorate General of Counter Terrorism (CTD), affiliated with the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), said in a Facebook post that the drone was launched by an "outlawed group" and successfully intercepted.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an alliance of Iran-backed armed groups opposing US support for Israel in the Gaza conflict, claimed responsibility.

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, there has been a notable increase in attacks on US forces and their allies in Iraq and neighbouring Syria. 

The militias say their attacks are in response to Washington's support for Israel's brutal war on Gaza, which has killed over 20,000 Palestinians in the last three months. 

In an unprecedented move, pro-Iran Iraqi militias late on Saturday launched drone attacks on the headquarters of Kurdish peshmerga forces near Salahadin resort, 25 km northeast of the Kurdistan region’s capital city of Erbil.

 The resort includes key intelligence and political headquarters of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). 

Peshawa Hawramani, the KRG spokesperson in a statement said the attacks were carried out by "an outlawed force" without naming any specific militia. He held the unnamed group and the Iraqi federal government responsible for the attacks.

There have been 115 recorded attacks against US targets in Syria and Iraq since mid-October, in response, the US military conducted airstrikes targeting locations used by Iran and its proxy forces in Iraq and Syria.

The United States maintains approximately 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 in Syria as part of a multinational coalition combating the Islamic State group.

Iraq's government is working on bringing an end to the presence of soldiers from a US-led coalition in the country, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said on December 28.

The Iraqi premier's announcement comes amid heightened tensions and an escalation in the conflict between the US military and Iran-backed militias, with the latter group insisting that the Iraqi government should set out a clear timetable for the withdrawal of coalition troops.

Kurdish officials have expressed their hope that US and coalition forces stay in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is considered to be a close ally of the West.