Iran tests US anti-aircraft defenses in Iraq

Iran-aligned militias in Iraq on Saturday erneut attacked a US military base in Iraq. This time it hit the Ain Al-Asad air base, about 160 km west of Baghdad.

Ain Al-Asad Airbase. Photo: Cpl. Alicia M Garcia
Ain Al-Asad Airbase. Photo: Cpl. Alicia M Garcia

The attack was believed to be in “retaliation” for an Israeli airstrike that killed five Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) officers in Damascus. Among the dead was a senior general in the Quds Force and a senior intelligence officer. From Iran's perspective, it makes no difference whether you kill the soldiers of one country or soldiers of its allies. They are viewed as a group of enemies. 

According to statements from forces on site, the incoming ballistic missiles were intercepted by the Patriot anti-aircraft defense system, which temporarily reached its maximum capacity. This suggests that the Iranians are specifically testing how many missiles and drones of what type can be intercepted with the various defense systems. Once this has been determined exactly, another attack is planned in which the anti-aircraft defense is completely overloaded so that individual missiles reach their target.

It can be assumed that Iran aims to kill US soldiers in Iraq. The idea is that the US population will then have less understanding of such missions and put pressure on the US government to withdraw soldiers from these areas.

For years, Iran has repeatedly used its militias in Iraq and Syria to attack the respective US bases there. The number and intensity of attacks have been increasing for weeks now. Iran wants the Americans as quickly as possible push from neighboring countries.

If the US leaves Iraq and Syria, this will raise further questions. For example, what will become of the Kurdish population. The Kurdistan Autonomous Region in Iraq currently has its own government, its own laws, its own elections and its own army. The Iraqi government has long been infiltrated by Iran, to which the Kurds, with their close ties to the USA, are a thorn in the side. It is feared that an Iraq without the USA would result in another civil war between Saddam's former victims and his former followers.