USAF MQ-9 Reaper drone shot down in Northern Iraq

U.S. Air Force photo

A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone crashed in northern Iraq on January 18, 2024.

The MQ-9 was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the anti-ISIS mission, at the time of the crash. The drone went down near the Balad Air Base and was subsequently recovered by Iraqi Security Forces. Officials believe that the USAF MQ-9 was likely downed by a surface-to-air missile provided by Iran and fired by an Iranian-affiliated Iraqi group.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iraqi militias supported by Tehran, claimed responsibility for shooting down the MQ-9 over Diyala Province. The group asserted that it used a surface-to-air missile and shared photos of the aircraft debris, including winglets resembling those on the MQ-9 and a possible external fuel tank.

This marks the second MQ-9 Reaper loss in recent months. On November 8, 2023, a Reaper was shot down off the coast of Yemen by Houthi forces.

The incident occurred as US forces continue to face attacks from Iran-backed militias in the region. In a press briefing on January 28, 2024, Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh reported there had been at least 140 such attacks, with 57 occurring in Iraq and 83 in Syria.

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