'Armed Drone' Attack on Arbil Airport, Iraq

By Asharq Al-Awsat
FILE: Smoke rises over the Erbil, after reports of mortar shells landing near Erbil airport, Iraq February 15, 2021. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

Armed drones attacked Arbil international airport, which lies near the US consulate in this northern Iraq city, Kurdish security forces said in a statement Saturday.

"There are no victims in the attack carried out by two armed drones," said the statement.

The airport, which is also the base for a coalition force of anti-terrorist troops, suffered no damage, according to its director, Ahmed Hochiar.

An AFP correspondent heard two loud blasts and saw black smoke rising up into the sky and heard sirens around the US consulate.

Security forces sealed off access to the airport zone, said witnesses.

Attacks of this kind, normally targeting US troops or US interests in Iraq, have become common in recent months.

Although no one claims responsibility for them, Washington blames pro-Iranian forces in Iraq.

The use of weaponized drones is a more recent development that poses a fresh challenge to coalition forces and the US-installed C-Ram anti-missile defense systems.

Booby-trapped drones were launched against Arbil international airport in July although they did not cause casualties or material damage that time, either.

A few weeks earlier, three drones targeted the airport in Baghdad, where US troops are also deployed.

Both Iran and the United States have a military presence and allies in Iraq. There are 2,500 American troops stationed there.

This latest attack comes on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, in which nearly 3,000 people were killed.

Arbil is the capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, led by Kurdish President Nechirvan Barzani.


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