Two American officials stated that the U.S. military prevented an attack on its forces in Iraq early on Wednesday by stopping two drones before they could launch a strike. This was the first attack of that kind on American forces in Iraq in over a year.
The sources, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, refused to identify the attacker, but in light of the rising tension in the region over the Israel-Hamas conflict, Washington is keeping a close eye out for any activity by groups backed by Iran.
Last week, Iraqi armed groups aligned with Iran threatened to target U.S. interests with missiles and drones if Washington intervened to support Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
The Pentagon has rushed air defenses and munitions to Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East, but U.S. forces have not joined the fighting.
The one-way attack drones were intercepted as they attempted to strike Iraq’s al Asad air base, which hosts American troops, the officials said.
The attack came hours after an explosion at a Gaza hospital killed hundreds of Palestinians, raising the stakes for U.S. President Joe Biden as he flies to Israel on Wednesday to signal support for its war against Hamas.
Israel blamed the blast at Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital on a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, which denied responsibility.
Palestinian officials said an Israeli air strike hit the hospital, with the Palestinian Authority’s health minister accusing Israel of causing a “massacre”.