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Multiple drone attacks against coalition forces in Iraq foiled on Soleimani anniversary

By Al-Mashareq and AFP

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One of the many images of IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani published by Iranian outlets in the past few weeks. [Iranian Ministry of Defence]

BAGHDAD -- Two armed drones targeting an air base in western Iraq were shot down on Tuesday (January 4), an official of the international coalition fighting the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) said.

"Two fixed-wing drones rigged with explosives were engaged and destroyed by defensive capabilities at the Iraqi [Ain] al-Asad air base early this morning," the official said.

"The attempted attack was unsuccessful. All forces are accounted for."

It is the second such attack in 24 hours targeting the coalition in Iraq. On Monday, the coalition shot down two armed drones targeting its compound at Baghdad airport.

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The remains of one of the drones shot down on January 4. It targeted an Iraqi air base where international coalition troops are stationed. [CENTCOM]

The attacks come as Tehran and its allies across the Middle East held commemorations marking the second anniversary on Monday of the killing of Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant in a US drone strike at Baghdad airport.

Coalition troops switched to a training and advisory role with the end of their combat mission early last month.

"While we have ended our combat mission, we maintain the inherent right of self-defence," the official said.

"These are attacks against Iraqi installations, and an attack against the Iraqi people and the military that protects them. We maintain a minimal footprint on Iraqi bases -- the coalition no longer has its own bases in Iraq."

Evidence points to Iran

Recent threats that Iran-linked Iraqi militias made over the US presence in Iraq are mere propaganda, Iraqi observers said -- a political stunt to compensate for their defeat in the parliamentary elections and preserve their existence.

The approximately 2,500 US and 1,000 other international coalition troops deployed in Iraq will remain in the country, where they have been acting as military advisers and trainers since mid-2020.

The coalition has stressed that it remains in Iraq at the invitation of the government, with its troops now stationed at three Iraqi bases managed by Iraqi forces.

Forensic evidence ties Iran to a host of attacks in the region carried out via unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, even though Iran adopted this modus operandi in part to hide its hand.

In September, reports emerged that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) set up a new training base in Iraq for members of its regional proxies, with drills focused on launching drone attacks.

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