Two armed drones target Iraq’s Ain al-Asad airbase: Sources

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Two armed drones targeted Iraq’s Ain al-Asad airbase, which hosts US forces and other international forces in western Iraq, a security source and a government source told Reuters on Tuesday.

The attack in the early hours of Tuesday, which the sources said did not cause casualties or damage, is the latest in a series of attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria, as tensions soar over the Israel-Hamas war.

US and coalition troops have been attacked at least 23 times by rockets and drones in Iraq and Syria from October 17 to 30, according to the US Defense Department website citing a senior US defense official.

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There has been an increase in attacks on US forces since the conflict in Israel broke out on October 7 and Iraqi armed groups aligned with Iran threatened to target US interests with missiles and drones if Washington intervened to support Israel against Hamas in Gaza.

A group called the “Islamic resistance in Iraq” has endorsed Tuesday’s attack.

On Monday, four Katyusha rockets were fired at Iraq’s Ain al-Asad air base, an attack also claimed by the same group.

Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq have consistently demanded the expulsion of American troops after a US airstrike in Baghdad killed senior Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in 2020. The militia groups since then resorted to rocket attacks on US forces in the country and the embassy in Baghdad.

These attacks stopped when Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani - nominated by the coordination framework, the largest parliamentary bloc composed of an alliance of Iran-aligned factions - assumed power last year.

Calls for the expulsion of US troops have also been relatively quiet since then. But these demands, along with the attacks, have resumed in connection with increased Israeli bombardment on Gaza.

In the latest such call, on Monday, Iraqi politician Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Political and Military Badr organization close to Iran, urged the government to “take all necessary measures to set a serious, specific, and short-term timetable for the exit of international coalition forces from Iraq.”

Al-Amiri’s call comes a few days after Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on the Iraqi government and lawmakers to close the US embassy in Baghdad in response to Washington’s “unfettered support” for Israel.

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