Iran-backed militias are using "small, fixed-wing drones that fly too low to be picked up by defensive systems" in Iraq, U.S. military officials and diplomats told The Washington Post.
One of the drone strikes reportedly targeted a CIA hangar in April. No one was harmed, but a preliminary analysis of its partially-recovered remains suggests it was made in Iran, worrying the White House and the Pentagon, which are already on high alert over rocket strikes on American-populated bases. Alberto Miguel Fernandez, the vice president of the Middle East Media Research Institute and a longtime American diplomat, tweeted Saturday that the news isn't all that surprising given that Tehran has already armed "other proxies in Yemen, Lebanon, and Gaza with drone technology," but he said the real question is how the U.S. will respond.
Per the Post, some U.S. officials "advocated serious consideration of a military response" before the Biden administration decided against it. One Iraqi solider stationed at an airbase that was targeted in a similar attack in May told the Post "the coalition was very upset" and "told our commanders that it was a major escalation." But Daniel DePetris of Defense Priorities, a national security think tank in Washington, D.C., thinks the revelation should expedite the U.S.'s full exit from Iraq.
“But that’s exactly what Iran and its proxies want,” many will say.
True. But U.S. policymakers shouldn’t be making decisions based on optics. They should be basing them on U.S. interests. And at this point, the U.S. force presence is more of a liability than a necessity.
— Daniel DePetris (@DanDePetris) May 29, 2021
At this point, he argues, the U.S. military can't resolve the issues in the region and "the longer U.S. forces remain in Iraq, the more likely one of these rocket attacks will eventually kill or seriously injure a U.S. service member or contractor. The U.S. would be forced to respond militarily, which would kick off a cycle of escalation none of us want," DePetris tweeted. Read more at The Washington Post.