Iran's Proxies in Iraq Threaten U.S. with More Sophisticated Weapons

June 4, 2021


Eric Schmitt and Jane Arraf


The New York Times

Related Country: 

  • Iraq

Unnamed U.S. officials allege that Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have used dive-bombing drones to launch at least three attacks against Iraqi military bases used by the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Special Operations Forces in the last two months. The episodes included an April 14 strike on a covert CIA hangar at an airport in Erbil, a May 8 attack on the Ayn al-Asad air base in Anbar Province, and a May 11 strike on an airfield in Harir used by U.S. special forces. Analysis of the drones' debris indicated that they could carry 10-60 pounds of explosives and that they used technology similar to that provided by Iran to Houthi rebels in Yemen. The attacks went unclaimed and caused no injuries; according to Iraqi and U.S. officials, Iran engineered the operations to minimize casualties. The drones flew low enough to evade U.S. defenses designed to counter artillery, mortars, and rockets. U.S. analysts have speculated that the militias were targeting U.S. facilities housing surveillance aircraft and U.S. MQ-9 Reaper combat drones.