Two drones headed toward an Iraqi base hosting U.S. troops near Baghdad International Airport were shot down before they could reach their target, Iraqi security sources told Reuters Monday morning.
No injuries were reported.
The attack marks the second anniversary of a drone strike ordered by former President Donald Trump that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in 2020.
According to Reuters, an unnamed U.S. official said the base’s defense system engaged “two fixed-wing suicide drones,” that “were shot down without incident.”
No one has claimed ownership of the drones yet, although footage that was also reportedly provided to Reuters by the coalition official showed debris from the destroyed drones, with writing on of the wing’s allegedly reading, “Soleimani’s revenge.”
Soleimani — who was the head of Iran’s Quds Force, an elite unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — was killed alongside Popular Mobilization Forces leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis two years ago.
According to Pentagon officials, the strike against the Iranian general was ordered after Soleimani orchestrated a Dec. 27, 2019 rocket attack on a Kirkuk military installation that killed an American contractor and wounded four U.S. service members.
Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more,” the Defense Department said following the strike.
Months after the strike, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur investigating extrajudicial and summary executions, said the U.S. government had provided no evidence to support the assertion that Soleimani posed an imminent threat.
“It is hard to imagine that a similar strike against a Western military leader would not be considered as an act of war,” Callamard wrote in a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, according to the New York Times.
Soleimani’s killing still elicits strong emotions in the region. On Sunday, hundreds of Iran-backed militia group supporters also gathered outside of Baghdad International Airport, the site of the 2020 drone strike, to protest Soleimani’s death and chant anti-American rhetoric.
Protestors additionally called for the removal of the remaining American forces from Iraq, calls that come just weeks after U.S.-led coalition leaders formally ended their combat mission against the Islamic State.
While around 2,500 troops will remain in-country for the foreseeable future, they remain only in an advisory role to Iraqi forces.
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran, Penn State alumna and Master's candidate at New York University for Business and Economic Reporting. She has also written for VTDigger and New York Magazine, and previously worked as the Early Bird Brief Editor for Defense News and Military Times.