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US uses F-15 aircraft to shoot down Iranian drone that appeared to threaten US forces in Iraq | CNN Politics


The United States sent an F-15 jet to shoot down an Iranian drone that appeared to be heading toward US forces in Erbil, Iraq, on Wednesday, a US official told CNN.

US forces launched the plane after tracking dozens of Iranian short-range ballistic missiles targeting Kurdish positions in northern Iraq on Wednesday, according to two other US officials. The initial assessment is that the launches originated inside Iran, the officials said.

“This was a significant incident,” said one of the officials.

“At approximately 2:10 p.m. local time, US forces shot down an Iranian Mojer-6 unmanned aerial vehicle heading in the direction of Erbil as it appeared to be a threat to USCENTCOM forces in the area,” the statement said. US Central Command, which oversees the US military presence in the Middle East, said in a statement.

Early Wednesday, nine people were killed, including civilians, after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps attacked Kurdish separatist groups in northern Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government said. [KRG] Health Minister Saman Barzanji told CNN.

The IRGC used missiles and drones to attack the offices of Kurdish groups, designated by Iran as terrorist organizations, Tasnim, an Iranian state-aligned news outlet, said, citing the IRGC.

US Central Command condemned the IRGC’s “unprovoked attack” on Iraq.

“Such indiscriminate attacks threaten innocent lives and put at risk the stability of the region that has been fought so hard for,” US Central Command senior spokesman Colonel Joe Buccino said in the statement.

No US forces were injured or killed as a result of the IRGC attacks, and there was no damage to US equipment, US Central Command said.

Iran has attacked militants based in the Kurdish region of Iraq in the past, but the attacks have increased since the weekend. Tehran accuses Kurdish groups of destabilizing the country by supporting protesters who have demonstrated against Iranian authorities following the death of Iranian Kurdish Mahsa Amini, according to Fars, a government-aligned news agency.

Both US officials emphasized, at this point, the belief that the Iranians were seeking to harm Kurdish forces to potentially divert attention from the ongoing protests in Iran. Protests have broken out in western parts of Iran, home to many Kurds angry over Amini’s death.

Launching such a large number of ballistic missiles raises concerns about long-term Iranian intentions and possible escalation, the officials said.

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