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News > Iraq

Why Was US Baghdad Air Defense Inactive for PM Drone Attack?

  • Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi appealed for

    Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi appealed for "calm and restraint" after a drone attack on his residence in Baghdad's Green Zone. | Photo: Twitter @MiddleEastMnt

Published 8 November 2021

Iraqi Prime Minister (PM) Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived an assassination attempt early Sunday morning after three drones targeted his residence, situated in the heavily fortified area of Baghdad known as the Green Zone. In addition to the PM’s home, the area houses the U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic buildings.

Iraq's Joint Operations Command (JOC) is wondering why the U.S. military's counter rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) installations appeared to have been inoperable during Sunday morning's attack on the prime minister's residence.


Iraqi PM Survives Assassination Attempt By Drone Bomb

"We are currently discussing the matter with the American side and officials from the U.S. Embassy. This is an issue that experts should throw light on and explain," JOC spokesman Maj. Gen. Tahsin al-Khafaji said, his remarks cited by Iran's PressTV.

When active, the C-RAM system issues a siren alarm to warn of potential incoming attacks, and fires off rapid-fire machine guns to shoot down hostile air targets. The system was installed and activated last year amid repeated strikes on the Green Zone by militia rocket artillery following the January 2020 U.S. assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a senior Iranian anti-terror commander. 

The system has been repeatedly used to protect Green Zone airspace since installed. It has failed several times, as when last February a volley of rockets launched into the Green Zone did not activate it, reportedly after the rocket trajectory was projected not to hit within the area of the diplomatic compound.

Mahmoud al-Rubaie, a spokesperson for the Al-Sadiqoun Bloc, the political wing of the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq Shia paramilitary group, has alleged that the reported deactivation of the U.S. C-RAM installations during the attempt on al-Kadhimi's life may be an indication that the incident was a false-flag attack.

He went on to claim that "the fictitious explosion and gunfire" at the PM's residence were "meant to conceal yesterday's crimes, and destined to engage public attention." He was referring to the violent clashes between security forces in Baghdad and protesters demonstrating against the results of the 10 October election, which some Iraqi parties allege were 'rigged,' on Friday.

No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack. However, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq was put under the spotlight Sunday after its leader, Qais al-Khazali, was seen in a viral clip warning that the prime minister would be made to "pay the price" for violence against the protesters.

Abu Ali al-Askari, a senior commander in Iraq's Kata'ib Hezbollah militant group, also challenged the assassination plot narrative, claiming that "no one in Iraq is willing to squander a drone and fly it over the prime minister's residence," and alleging that "playing the victim is a timeworn tactic."

Sheikh Ali al-Asadi, chief of the political council of the al-Nujaba Movement, another Iraqi Shia paramilitary group, also alleged foul play in Sunday's incident, suggesting that the Americans were trying to unleash chaos in Iraq.

"All evidence and signs indicate that the American Embassy is involved in the incident," he claimed. "If the evil American Embassy is found responsible for the attack, the seditionist U.S. ambassador must then be expelled from Iraq," al-Asadi insisted.

Meanwhile, Tehran slammed the attempt on the PM's life. Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Khatibzadeh indirectly accused the U.S. of involvement, saying Sunday, "such incidents are in the interest of those who have violated the stability, security, independence and territorial integrity of Iraq over the past 18 years."

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