Two armed drones were shot down as they approached an Iraqi military base hosting US forces near Baghdad’s international airport, Iraqi security sources said, adding that nobody was hurt in the incident.
An official of the US-led international military coalition stationed there said the base’s defence system engaged “two fixed-wing suicide drones… they were shot down without incident”.
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“This was a dangerous attack on a civilian airport,” the coalition official said in a brief statement on Monday.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Footage provided by the coalition showed what the official said was debris of two fixed-wing drones destroyed in the attack, with writing clearly visible on the wing of one drone reading “Soleimani’s revenge”.
The attack came as Iran and its allies in Iraq marked the second anniversary of the assassination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani who was killed in a drone strike ordered by Donald Trump near Baghdad airport.
Soleimani, head of an elite overseas unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed along with Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on January 3, 2020.
Hundreds of supporters of Iran-backed militia groups gathered on Sunday at Baghdad airport to mark the anniversary of Soleimani’s death and to chant anti-American slogans.
The Hashed – a coalition of former paramilitary groups now integrated into the Iraqi state security apparatus – held a candle-lit vigil on Sunday at the airport for the two men killed.
The US said at the time that Soleimani was planning imminent action against US personnel in Iraq, a country long torn between the competing demands of its principal allies Washington and Tehran.
Five days after his killing, Iran fired missiles at an airbase in Iraq housing US troops and another near Erbil in the country’s north.
Since then, dozens of rockets and roadside bombs have targeted US security, military and diplomatic sites across Iraq.
On December 9, the US-led coalition declared it had finished its combat mission in Iraq and that its approximately 2,500 troops would shift to a purely training and advisory role.