U.S. forces on Wednesday brought down an Iranian drone that officials said appeared poised to attack American troops in Iraq.
The downing came as the Iranian military started a drone bombing campaign targeting the bases of an Iranian-Kurdish opposition group in northern Iraq, attacks that have killed at least nine people and wounded 32 others, according to the Kurdish Regional Government’s Health Ministry.
The bombings follow Iraqi and Iranian Kurds protesting in Iraq’s northern city of Erbil over the death of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Kurdish woman who died in the custody of Iran’s so-called morality police.
“U.S. Central Command condemns the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ unprovoked attack in Iraq’s Erbil Governorate this morning. Such indiscriminate attacks threaten innocent civilians and risk the hard-fought stability of the region,” command spokesman Joe Buccino said in a statement
In the midst of the bombing campaign, U.S. forces at 2:10 p.m. local time brought down an Iranian Mojer-6 unmanned aerial vehicle “headed in the direction of Erbil as it appeared as a threat to CENTCOM forces in the area,” according to Buccino.
He noted that no U.S. forces were wounded or killed, no U.S. equipment was damaged as a result of the strikes and that Central Command forces are assessing the situation.
U.S. and coalition troops are based in Iraq to advise and assist its military to counter ISIS militants and keep the terrorist group from resurging in the region.
The U.S. government has condemned the strikes, with national security adviser Jake Sullivan stating Wednesday that Washington stands “with Iraq’s leaders in the Kurdistan region and Baghdad in condemning these attacks as an assault on the sovereignty of Iraq and its people.”
“Iranian leaders continue to demonstrate flagrant disregard not only for the lives of their own people, but also for their neighbors and the core principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity enshrined in the U.N. Charter,” Sullivan said. “Iran cannot deflect blame from its internal problems and the legitimate grievances of its population with attacks across its borders.”
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry and the Kurdistan Regional Government have also condemned the attacks.