Material damages in the Ain al-Assad base in Iraq, five days after the Iranian strike. 13 Jan, 2020. (Photo credit: AP)
According to Iraqi media reports, US defense systems at the Ain al-Assad military base in Iraq’s western Anbar province brought down an unidentified drone that was able to bypass the facility’s security and reach “inaccessible” areas of the base.
An anonymous military source was quoted by Iraq’s Al-Maalouma news agency as saying that on 8 January, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) managed to make its way through all of the base’s security rings and enter areas that are “off-limits,” before finally being shut down “with electronic systems.”
The US army is usually able to target any ‘suspicious’ aircraft before it makes its way to the first security ring, the source stated.
“The drone reached very important parts of the Ain al-Assad base, and this was the first time that this happens … The American military has not released the details of the incident because the drone passed through the missile defense systems of the Ain al-Assad base and threatened the dormitories and sanatoriums of the soldiers,” it added.
The Iraqi news agency said that it was unclear whether or not the drone was on a surveillance mission, or if it was carrying any explosives. No explosions, damages, or casualties were reported. An investigation into the incident has reportedly been opened, the agency added without elaborating further.
Five days after an illegal US drone strike on 3 January 2020 killed Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) chief, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Tehran responded by showering the Ain al-Assad military base with a barrage of missiles.
The US military denied any casualties, but the Pentagon reported that over 100 US military personnel suffered traumatic brain injuries following the strike. The facility also sustained heavy material damages.
Unbeknownst to many, however, Iran responded to Soleimani’s killing with more than just an attack on Ain al-Assad. In 2021, an anonymous, high-ranking security official within the Resistance Axis told The Cradle that two senior officers, one in the US army and another in the Israeli army, were killed in a resistance operation in Iraq’s Erbil – which was carried out to avenge the illegal assassination.
Lt. Col. James C. Willis, who was involved in the Soleimani assassination and was killed in Erbil, was reported by the Pentagon – in a blatant coverup – to have died “in a non-combat incident at Qatar’s Al-Udeid base.” The Israeli, Col. Sharon Asman, was also killed in the operation and was reported to have suffered from heart failure.
Since Iran’s missile attack on Ain al-Assad, the facility has come under attack several times. Other US bases in Iraq have also been struck, and this year, attacks against US bases in Syria are increasing in frequency and intensity.
On 5 January 2020, Lebanese resistance leader, Hassan Nasrallah, vowed: “The response to the blood of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis will be the expulsion of all US forces from the region.”