U.S. troops and coalition forces in Iraq defended themselves against hostile drones, resulting in injuries to coalition personnel, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced on Wednesday.
“In the last 24 hours, the U.S. military defended against three drones near U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq. In western Iraq, U.S. forces engaged two drones, destroying one and damaging the second, resulting in minor injuries to Coalition forces,” read a statement from CENTCOM. “Separately in northern Iraq, U.S. forces engaged and destroyed a drone, resulting in no injuries or damage. We are continuing to assess the impacts to operations.”
“In this moment of heightened alert, we are vigilantly monitoring the situation in Iraq and the region. We want to emphasize U.S. forces will defend U.S. and Coalition forces against any threat,” the press release continued.
While CENTCOM did not identify a party responsible for the engagements, the drone encounters come at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and middle eastern nations, especially Iran.
On Oct. 7, the Iran-backed Hamas terrorist group struck Israel in a major raid, seizing hostages and inflicting civilian casualties on the U.S. ally. The episode prompted Israeli counterstrikes on the Gaza Strip and the conflict threatens to spill over into neighboring countries. Cross-border strikes have already occurred into Syria and Lebanon, the latter of which is home to Hezbollah, another Iranian-backed group. Syria, for its part, maintains close ties with Tehran.
President Joe Biden last week warned Iran against aggressive action in the wake of the raid.
“I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu I don’t know how many times, but again this morning, and already we’re surging additional military assistance to the Israeli Defense Forces, including ammunition, interceptors to replenish the Iron Dome, and we’ve moved the U.S. carrier fleet to the Eastern Mediterranean, and we’re sending more fighter jets there to that region, and made it clear — made it clear to the Iranians: Be careful,” he said at the time.
In Iraq, Iran maintains influence through the support of militias within the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an officially Baghdad-endorsed coalition of militia groups that rose to prominence fending off the Islamic State.
Biden visited Israel on Wednesday in a show of support for the country amid the ongoing hostilities. He had planned to visit Jordan for a summit with middle eastern leaders on how best to diffuse the situation, though the Jordanian authorities cancelled the meeting amid anti-Israel protests in the capital and across the region that sprang up in response to an alleged Israeli airstrike on a Gaza hospital.