A US official told CNN that on Wednesday, the US scrambled an F-15 jet to shoot down an Iranian drone that appeared to be heading toward US forces in Erbil, Iraq.
According to two additional US officials, US forces launched the jet on Wednesday after following dozens of Iranian short-range ballistic missiles headed for Kurdish positions in northern Iraq. According to the officials, the initial assessment is that the launches originated in Iran.
One of the officials stated, “This was a significant incident.” (US scrambles F-15 jet)
In a statement, US Central Command, which is in charge of the US military’s presence in the Middle East, said, “At approximately 2:10 PM local time, U.S. forces brought down an Iranian Mojer-6 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle headed in the direction of Erbil as it appeared to be a threat to USCENTCOM forces in the area.”
According to Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] Health Minister Saman Barzanji, nine people, including civilians, were killed when Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps attacked Kurdish separatist groups in northern Iraq earlier on Wednesday.
According to the Iranian state-aligned news agency Tasnim, citing the IRGC, the IRGC targeted Kurdish groups’ offices with missiles and drones. Iran has designated these groups as terrorist organizations. (US scrambles F-15 jet)
The “unprovoked attack” by the IRGC in Iraq was condemned by US Central Command.
Senior US Central Command Spokesperson Col. said, “Such indiscriminate attacks threaten innocent lives and risk the hard-fought stability of the region.” The statement by Joe Buccino.
According to US Central Command, the IRGC strikes did not cause any injuries or deaths among US personnel and did not cause any damage to US equipment.
Iran has previously targeted Kurdish-based militants in Iraq, but attacks have increased since the weekend. According to Fars, a government-aligned news agency, Tehran is accusing Kurdish groups of destabilizing the country by supporting protesters who have demonstrated against Iranian authorities following the death of Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini. (US scrambles F-15 jet)
close conversation between the two US officials emphasized that, at this point, it was believed that the Iranians were attempting to harm Kurdish forces in order to possibly draw attention away from the protests taking place in Iran. In the western part of Iran, where many Kurds are outraged by Amini’s death, protests have erupted.
The officials stated that the launch of such a large number of ballistic missiles does raise concerns regarding Iranian intentions in the long run and a potential escalation.