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Coalition in Iraq targeted 2 years after Soleimani killing

Iraqis light candles during a commemoration ceremony held to mark the second anniversary of the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and his lieutenant Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, at the spot where they were killed, near Baghdad’s International Airport, on Sunday. — AFP
Iraqis light candles during a commemoration ceremony held to mark the second anniversary of the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and his lieutenant Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, at the spot where they were killed, near Baghdad’s International Airport, on Sunday. — AFP

BAGHDAD: The US-led coalition against the IS group in Iraq on Monday shot down two armed drones targeting a compound at Baghdad airport hosting its personnel, a coalition official said.


The incident, which was not claimed by any group, came two years after a US drone strike near the airport killed Iran’s revered General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant.


“Two fixed-wing suicide drones, or improvised cruise missiles, attempted to attack Baghdad Airport this morning at approximately 4:30 am” (0130 GMT), the official said.


A counter-rocket, artillery and mortar, or C-RAM, system “at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center engaged them and they were shot down without incident,” added the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.


The BDSC compound houses “a very small number of coalition troops who are not in a combat role,” the source said, describing them as logistical troops, contractors and civilian personnel.


The January 3, 2020 US strike killed Soleimani — who headed the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards — and Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, deputy leader of the Hashed al Shaabi coalition of armed groups.


Photos obtained by AFP from the coalition official show remains of one of the projectiles from Monday’s attempted strike, with the message “commanders’ revenge operations” written on it.


“The Iraqis have opened an investigation,” the coalition source said.


“There is no damage, but this is a civilian airport, it is very dangerous to launch this type of attack.”


The night-time strike two year ago, ordered by then-US president Donald Trump, hit a car in which Soleimani and Muhandis were travelling on the edge of the airport.


The Hashed — a coalition of former paramilitary groups now integrated into the Iraqi state security apparatus — held a candle-lit vigil on Sunday at the airport for the two men killed.


The US said at the time that Soleimani was planning imminent action against US personnel in Iraq, a country long torn between the competing demands of its principal allies Washington and Tehran.


Five days after his killing, Iran fired missiles at an air base in Iraq housing US troops and another near Arbil in the country’s north.


 — AFP


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