By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA
BAGHDAD (AP) — Two armed drones were shot down at the Baghdad airport on Monday, a U.S.-led coalition official said, an attack that coincides with the anniversary of the 2020 U.S. killing of a top Iranian general.
There were no reports of damage or injuries from the incident, which was also confirmed by an Iraqi security official.
The official with the U.S.-led international coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq told The Associated Press that the C-RAM defense system at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center engaged two fixed wing so-called “suicide drones.” The C-RAM system protects American installations in Iraq.
“This was a dangerous attack on a civilian airport,” the coalition official said.
The Iraqi security official who confirmed the incident said the drones were headed toward a U.S. base at Baghdad airport housing U.S. advisors.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, although one of the wings of the drones had the words “Soleimani’s revenge” painted on it, while another had words reading, “revenge operations for our leaders,” according to the officials. Both spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The 2020 U.S. drone strike at Baghdad’s airport killed Gen. Qassim Soleimani, who was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
Pro-Iran Shiite factions in Iraq have vowed revenge for the killing and have conditioned the end of attacks against the U.S. presence in Iraq on the full exit of American troops from the country.
The U.S.-led coalition formally ended it’s combat mission supporting Iraqi forces in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group last month. Some 2,500 troops will remain as the coalition shifts to an advisory mission to continue supporting Iraqi forces.