The United States grapples with a rapidly evolving threat from Iranian proxies in Iraq after militias specializing in the exploitation of more sophisticated weapons, including armed drones, hit some of America’s most sensitive during attacks that escaped American defenses.
At least three times in the past two months, these militias have used small explosive-laden drones that stab bombs and crash into their targets in nightly attacks on Iraqi bases, including those used by the CIA and US special operations units, according to US officials.
Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the top US commander in the Middle East, said last month that drones pose a serious threat and the military is rushing to find ways to combat them.
Iran – weakened by years of harsh economic sanctions – is using its proxy militias in Iraq to step up pressure on the United States and other world powers to negotiate a relaxation of these sanctions as part of a relaunch of the 2015 nuclear deal. Iraqi and US officials say Iran designed the drone attacks to minimize losses that could provoke US retaliation.
Michael P. Mulroy, a former CIA officer and senior Middle East politician at the Pentagon, said that with the technology provided by the Iranian force Quds – the foreign arm of the Iranian security apparatus – drones are rapidly becoming more sophisticated at a relatively low level. Cost.
“Drones are a big problem, one of the biggest threats our troops face there,” he said.
A senior Iraqi national security official said drones were a challenge, but were tools, not the heart of the problem.
“It is a pressure tactic,” said the official, who asked not to be identified so that he could speak freely about Iran. “Iran is economically suffocating. The more he suffers, the more these attacks multiply, ”he added. “The problem is the conflict between the United States and Iran.”
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