In a recent incident north of Baghdad, an American drone crashed, prompting heightened tensions between the United States and Iran-backed militants. A US defense official revealed on Friday that the drone went down near Balad airbase in Iraq on Thursday night, local time. The official, speaking to AFP, refrained from specifying the type of drone lost during the incident.
Iraqi security forces promptly recovered the unmanned aircraft, and fortunately, no injuries were reported. An investigation into the crash’s cause is currently underway, according to the official.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a coalition of armed groups with ties to Iran opposing US support for Israel, claimed responsibility for the incident. In a statement released on Friday, the group asserted that it had targeted a US MQ-9 drone, a versatile unmanned aerial vehicle capable of both surveillance and strikes, operating over Iraq the day before.
This event adds to a series of escalating tensions in the region, with US and allied forces facing approximately 140 attacks since mid-October, many of which were claimed by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq. The Pentagon has responded with retaliatory strikes in both Iraq and Syria.
The situation intensified on January 4 when a US strike in central Baghdad killed a pro-Iran commander allegedly involved in attacks on American troops. This move drew ire from the Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, backed by Tehran-aligned parties, who called for the departure of the US-led international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.
Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder, addressing the current circumstances, stated on Tuesday that Washington will “continue to consult closely” with Iraq. However, he clarified that there is no official request from the government of Iraq for US forces to leave.
Presently, the United States maintains approximately 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 in Syria as part of the anti-IS coalition. The evolving situation underscores the delicate balance in the region, requiring careful consideration and diplomatic efforts to navigate these challenging geopolitical waters.