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Drone Attack Damages Hangar at US-Coalition Air Base in Iraq

FILE - An aerial photo taken from a helicopter shows Ain al-Asad air base in the western Anbar desert, Iraq, Dec. 29, 2019.

At least one armed drone was shot down after attacking the Ain al-Asad Airbase in Iraq's Anbar province early Saturday morning, but inflicting no casualties to U.S.-led Coalition forces stationed at the base. There have been at least half-a-dozen attacks on U.S.-led coalition targets in recent weeks.

Arab media showed video of a bulldozer clearing away rubble of a damaged hangar at Anbar province's Ain al-Asad Airbase, which was attacked by at least one armed drone early Saturday. U.S. Coalition spokesman Wayne Marotto said there were no casualties.

Marotto indicated in a tweet that the attack—by what he called an "unmanned aerial surveillance system"—took place around 2:20 a.m. Saturday morning.

Iraqi state TV reported that an "explosive drone" fell on the Ain al-Asad Airbase, without causing casualties.

The attack on Ain al-Assad was the second this month. Two separate attacks on bases used by U.S.-coalition forces at Baghdad Airport and Kurdistan's Irbil Airport were also reported in recent days, along with other attacks on U.S. convoys around the country.

Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV noted that Iran operates a number of drones in the region, including the Ardebil, Shahad 129 and Shahad 171 models, but stopped short of accusing Iran or its proxies of the attack.

Iraqi analyst Col. Ayad Toufan told the TV channel that U.S. and Iraqi forces were able to glean some information from the drone's debris after it crashed.

He said that it appears that at least one drone flew into the vicinity of the Ain al-Assad Airbase from the Iraqi border town of al-Qaim, along the Iraqi-Syrian border, judging from information pieced together from the downed drone.

A previous attack on the base was blamed on the pro-Iranian proxy Hezbollah militia, which has forces both in Iraq and Syria. Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces also have several bases inside Syria, near the Iraqi border.

The majority of the 2,500 U.S. troops which still remain in Iraq are based at the Ain al-Asad Airbase. Many of them are involved in supporting Iraqi forces flying U.S.-built aircraft.

U.S. Gen. Kenneth Mackenzie, who heads the U.S. Central Command, told Arab media earlier this year that "drones are the biggest threat to U.S. forces in the region."

Iran and its proxy militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen operate drones that have been used against targets in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Yemeni government forces in territory that they control.