U.S. shoots down Iranian drones attacking Iraqi airport on 20th anniversary of 9/11

American military forces downed two Iranian drones that were attacking an airport in Erbil, a city in northern Iraq held by Kurdish forces, late Saturday, the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11., 2001 terrorist attacks.

According to reports citing a spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq, there were no injuries or damage to the airport.

A separate official told Fox News that the Iranian drones were downed by an American counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) system. Both drones were laden with explosives and were manufactured in the Islamic republic, the official added.

“Each attack against the GoI, KRI and the Coalition undermines the authority of Iraqi institutions, the rule of law and Iraqi National sovereignty,” said Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto in a statement posted to Twitter. “These attacks endanger the lives of civilians and the partner forces from the ISF, Peshmerga and Coalition.”

Marotto added that coalition “forces at Erbil AB were attacked by 2 UAS. Force protection counter measures were used to defeat the drones. 1 UAS impacted inside perimeter; 1 UAS impacted outside perimeter. There are no injuries or property damage.”

The airport has come under assault by Iranian-backed militia forces repeatedly in recent months.

Kurdistan 24 reported that in July, drones were used to target a military base north of Erbil, while in June, another drone armed with explosives struck a residential building near where the future U.S. consulate is to be located near the regional capital.

There are some U.S. troops based at the airport in Erbil.

Saturday’s attack follows “a two-month lull in drone and rocket attacks to target the U.S. presence in Baghdad and military bases across Iraq,” Fox News added.

On July 8, rockets were fired into and around the Green Zone located in the Iraqi capital, which is heavily defended. The U.S. Embassy is located within the zone.

There was damage done but no casualties, reports said.

Attacks were fairly frequent until only recently, but most have come from Tehran-backed militia groups. Attacks in recent weeks have become “more sophisticated, with militants using drones instead of” unguided “Katyusha rockets,” Fox News noted further.

The U.S. has about 2,500 troops in Iraq with an additional 900 located in neighboring Syria, in order to keep ISIS limited and ineffective.

Al Jazeera reports that Iran has been training militants in the use of more sophisticated drones at an airbase near the city of Isfahan, citing Israeli military and intelligence officials.

According to Benny Gantz, Israel’s defense minister, the Iranians were using the Kashan airbase located north of the city to train “terror operatives from Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon in flying Iranian-made UAVs,” the acronym for unmanned aerial vehicles.

In addition, Iran is attempting to “transfer know-how that would allow the manufacturing of UAVs in the Gaza Strip”, which is located along the Jewish state’s southern border, Gantz told attendees at a conference at Reichman University, near Tel Aviv.

The defense minister’s office went on to provide reconnaissance photos of what he said were Iranian drones on a runway at the Kashan airbase.

The outlet went on to report that an explosion aboard the “Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime,” was caused by an armed Iranian drone.


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