Wreckage of Iranian missiles and drones bound for Israel found in Iraq

Security officials say pieces of the weapons fired at the weekend were discovered in Erbil and Najaf

The wreckage of a missile lies in a field in the Soran district of Erbil after the Iranian attack against Israel. Getty Images
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Wreckage of Iranian missiles and drones have been found in different parts of Iraq after the attack against Israel, security officials and sources close to the government said on Monday.

US-led coalition forces in Iraq shot down dozens of Iranian drones and missiles launched towards Israel, a source close to the Iraqi government told The National.

Dozens of the weapons were intercepted above Baghdad, Najaf, western Iraq and the the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, the source said.

US anti-missile systems at the Ain Al Asad airbase in western Anbar province played a key role in shooting down the projectiles, the source added.

At least one ballistic missile launched in the attack at the weekend was shot down by a US Patriot battery in the Kurdish region, a security official told The National. It landed in Soran district outside the regional capital of Erbil.

Wreckage of a drone was also found in an open area outside the province of Najaf, another official said. No casualties were reported.

Other pieces of the Iranian weapons were reported to have fallen in the area by residents.

On Saturday, Iran fired more than 300 drones and missiles at sites inside Israel, marking a major escalation in the war in Gaza that threatens to heighten tensions in the region.

The attack came after Iran vowed to retaliate for an Israeli strike on its Damascus embassy compound on April 1 that killed two senior Iranian commanders and other members of its elite force.

Iran has warned Israel of a larger attack on its territory if it retaliates against Tehran's retaliatory strike.

Many Iraqis told The National that they saw and heard several Iranian drones and missiles during the attack.

Israel, the US and Britain shot down the majority of drones and missiles, including in Iraq.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Tehran gave fair warning to countries of the region and the US by serving notice 72 hours before the attack.

The Iraqi government has refrained from denouncing Iran's use of its airspace.

Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid said it was necessary to “reduce tension and not to expand the conflict” in the region.

“Wars will not solve people's problems but aggravate the conflicts between nations,” he said, as he called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

A spokesman for the Iran-backed Al Nujaba militia in Iraq criticised Baghdad after the attack, saying the intervention of US forces "undoubtedly embarrasses the Iraqi government, which seeks to take a clear position on the American military presence" in the country.

"The American occupation does not abide by international norms and laws and has no respect for the sovereignty of states and their territories," Hussein Al Musawi told The National. "It is not surprising that it supports and defends Israel regardless of its violation of international norms."

Iran-backed militias in Iraq have long called for the US military presence to end in the country, where about 2,500 American troops are stationed as part of the coalition to fight against ISIS.

Since the terrorist group was defeated in 2017, US forces have come under attack from Iran-backed militias. The US has launched air strikes against the groups.

The US Central Command said on Monday that it “successfully engaged and destroyed” more than 80 one-way attack drones and at least six ballistic missiles intended to strike Israel from Iran and Yemen. The operation was supported by US European Command destroyers.

The destroyed sites include a ballistic missile on its launcher vehicle and seven drones destroyed on the ground in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen before their launch, it added.

“Iran's continued unprecedented, malign, and reckless behaviour endangers regional stability and the safety of US and coalition forces,” it said.

It vowed to “support Israel’s defence against these dangerous actions by Iran. We will continue to work with all our regional partners to increase regional security”.

Updated: April 15, 2024, 10:39 PM