On January 15 morning, three drones attacked Balad Air Base in the northern Iraqi province of Saladin, according to the Security Media Cell.
In a brief statement, the Security Media Cell said that the drones approached the southern part of the air base before being noticed by a protection force.
“The force opened fire at the drones, which fled,” the statement reads.
The US-led coalition condemned the alleged attack and revealed that none of its personnel are currently deployed at Balad Air Base.
“Attacks on Iraqi installations are attacks on the Iraqi people. The Coalition maintains a minimal footprint on Iraqi locations to advise, assist and enable but has no personnel at Balad. The ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] has the capability and capacity to protect its installations,” the coalition said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Abu Ali al-Askari, top security commander of Kata’ib Hezbollah, questioned the claims made by the Security Media Cell. The commander, who represents Iran’s allies in Iraq, noted that suicide drones used in previous attacks on US positions in Iraq can’t maneuver, or “flee”.
The statement of al-Askari indicates that pro-Iranian forces were not behind the alleged drone attack on Balad Air Base.
It’s worth noting that al-Askari had also condemned the January 13 Baghdad rocket attack that wounded a woman and her child in the highly-fortified Green Zone. When the attack first took place, pro-Iranian media sources hinted that the attack was a false-flag operation.
Pro-Iranian forces in Iraq carried out a series of attacks on US-led coalition positions in the first week of January to honor the memory of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Deputy-Commander of the Popular Mobilization Units, and Iran’s Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani who were assassinated by the US around two years ago.
Now, some side may be staging provocations to increase political pressure on Iran allies in Iraq. This side could be the US itself or one of its close Iraqi allies.