BAGHDAD: A drone attack has been carried out on a military base in Iraqi Kurdistan that hosts American troops, without causing any casualties, the US-led coalition said on Saturday.

The attack comes with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi expected to meet US President Joe Biden in Washington on Monday to discuss a possible full US troop withdrawal from his country.

“An unmanned aerial system impacted a coalition base in Kurdistan” in the early hours of Friday, coalition spokesman US Colonel Wayne Marotto said in a statement.

“There were no casualties and no damage as a result of the attack,” he said, adding “the United States and coalition forces will stay vigilant and maintain the inherent right to self-defence.”

Iraqi Kurdish media outlets said the attack targeted a base at Al-Harir, 70 kilometres northeast of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region.

It was the latest in a spate of attacks on US military and diplomatic facilities in Iraq, blamed on pro-Iranian armed groups within a state-sponsored paramilitary force.

The United States still has around 2,500 troops deployed in Iraq, out of 3,500 men in the international coalition set up in 2014 to fight the militant Islamic State group.

Their departure is demanded by the pro-Iranian factions, which have been blamed for some 50 attacks against US interests in Iraq since the beginning of the year.

The Iraqi Resistance Coordination Committee on Friday threatened to continue the attacks unless the US withdraws all its forces and ends the “occupation”.

Most of the American troops deployed in the coalition, which helped defeat IS in Iraq in 2017, were withdrawn under former US president Donald Trump.

Those that remain are officially classed as advisers and trainers for Iraq’s army and counter-terrorism units.

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2021

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