An American military drone has “has crashed” North of the Iraqi capital, a Pentagon official told several media outlets, refusing to provide details. The incident comes weeks after a local militia leader was killed in Baghdad in a US drone strike, an attack condemned by the Iraqi government.
An unnamed defense official said in a statement obtained by AFP, RIA Novosti and other news agencies that the drone went down on Thursday evening near Balad Air Base, located about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of Baghdad.
“Iraqi security forces recovered the plane. No injuries were reported,” The official said on Friday, adding that “The cause of the accident is being investigated.”
While the official gave no indication as to whether the drone had experienced a technical problem or was shot down by enemy fire, the admission came just hours after a local militia group – the Islamic Resistance in Iraq – claimed to have targeted a US MQ-9. Reaper, which was used for surveillance and air strikes.
“Yesterday, the Mujahideen targeted… an MQ-9 drone belonging to the American occupation.” The group said in a statement on Friday.
Unconfirmed footage has spread online claiming to show the expensive US plane falling from the sky in flames, while another clip has emerged depicting the aftermath of the crash, with debris seen scattered on the ground.
🔴🔥 The moment the American MQ9 drone was shot down by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.. The price of this drone is 32 million dollars. $ pic.twitter.com/6QeMAQHAi0
– 💡 Aboel Ala🤺 (@A3A3A3A123) January 20, 2024
Washington has launched a series of deadly strikes on Iraq and Syria in recent months, most of which targeted armed groups with alleged links to Iran. A US drone strike on Baghdad earlier this month killed militia leader Mushtaq Jawad Kadhim al-Jawari, who headed Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, a Shiite armed group said to be linked to the Islamic Resistance faction.
A military spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani condemned the attack, describing it as an attack “An unprovoked attack on an Iraqi security body” Which was operating with an official license. Al-Jawari had served as a commander in the Popular Mobilization Forces, a loose group of state-backed paramilitary forces formed in 2014 to help defeat the Islamic State (ISIS, formerly ISIS).
Another high-profile US drone strike near Baghdad International Airport in January 2020 led to the killing of the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, as well as Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force. Baghdad also condemned this attack and described it as the then Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi “The aggression against Iraq is a state, a government and a people.”
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