US denies 'drone attack' on air base in Kuwait

Iran-backed militias in Iraq have launched at least one drone attack towards targets in the Gulf

Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. AP
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The US Air Force has denied claims by a militia group in Iraq that one of its bases in Kuwait had come under attack from a drone, purportedly launched by the group.

An Iraqi group calling itself Al Waretheen, or “The Inheritors," announced on Saturday that drones had been launched at the Ali Al Salem Air Base on August 12.

The US Air Force's 386th Air Expeditionary Wing said this was simply a “propaganda attack,” and that no such incident had occurred.

“The misinformation falsely stated an Iranian militia group used (drones) to carry out an attack on base,” an Air Force statement to The Associated Press said. “No such attack occurred.” Al Waretheen say they are based in Iraq, despite the US statement saying they were Iranian.

Analysts say that alongside conducting real attacks on US forces in Iraq, Iran-backed militia groups sometimes announce attacks that in reality did not happen, in an attempt to sow disinformation.

Small militia groups in Iraq, including Ashab Al Kahf, have made similar claims in the past, releasing statements about drone attacks or improvised roadside bomb attacks on US convoys, yet no evidence of such attacks later emerges, or footage of the purported attacks is found to have been re-used from older incidents.

According to US think tank the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, groups such as Ashab Al Kahf are front organisations for established militias in the Popular Mobilisation Forces, an umbrella organisation of armed groups ostensibly under Iraqi-government control, but with significant Iranian backing.

These groups include Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl Al Haq, both listed as terror organisations by the US.

But while the fake attacks have little consequence, both groups have launched thousands of lethal attacks since their formation during the US occupation of Iraq and their front organisations have been blamed by the US of at least one drone attack targeting Saudi Arabia last year.

Analysts say the front organisations are intended to deflect blame and reduce the likelihood of US retaliation for real attacks.

Updated: August 21, 2022, 6:21 AM