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Sunday, July 21, 2024

US gunship goes on retaliation mission

The attack is the first in Iraq since the Israel-Gaza conflict began on October 7

A US Air Force gunship destroyed a vehicle from which an “Iranian-backed” militia had fired ballistic missiles at American troops in Iraq, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The Al-Asad Airbase near Baghdad was hit by a “close-range ballistic missile,” injuring eight US soldiers, deputy Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters, adding that an AC-130J Ghostrider was already in the air and had spotted the vehicle from which the missile came.

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“They were able to take action because they saw the militants,” Singh said at the Pentagon press briefing. “They were able to keep an eye on the movement of these militants as they moved into their vehicles. That’s why they were able to respond.”

According to the US Central Command (CENTCOM), the gunship carried out a “self-defense strike” that “resulted in several enemy casualties.” The incident happened on Monday evening.

Multiple US bases in Syria and Iraq have come under at least 66 attacks by “Islamic Resistance” militias starting on October 17, shortly after Washington announced its support for Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza. Videos posted by the militants on social media show missile launchers inside cargo trailers of commercial trucks.

The Iraqi Shia militia Kataib Hezbollah said on Tuesday that one of its fighters, Fadil Al-Maksusi, had been killed in an American airstrike.

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US warplanes have bombed Syria on three occasions since, but Tuesday’s attack was the first of its kind in Iraq. What also made the AC-130’s flight peculiar was that it had flown with a transponder on, enabling civilian websites such as FlightRadar 24 to follow its mission.

The AC-130 is an armed modification of the C-130 Hercules transport, armed with a 30mm chain gun, a 105mm howitzer, and a variety of ground attack weapons.