One civilian killed in second day of drone attacks on US forces

This is the second time this week that U.S. bases in Iraq have been targeted by drones.
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iraq drone attack
The USS Carney shot down three missiles flying over the Red Sea toward Israel as US forces faced an uptick in aerial attacks in Iraq and Syria. Photo by Stephen W Jones. ATLANTIC OCEAN- (April 7, 2017) - USS Carney (DDG 64) while on patrol in the Atlantic Ocean April 7, 2017. Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting its third patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston Jones/Released)

One civilian died as U.S. forces fought off air attacks for a second day across the Middle East. U.S. troops reacted to drones in Iraq and Syria and shot down rockets fired from Yemen towards Israel.

A U.S. civilian military contractor at al Asad Air Base in Western Iraq suffered a “cardiac episode” while sheltering from a possible drone attack, a Pentagon official said Thursday, and died shortly after. It was unclear if the civilian was American.

In a separate incident, U.S. troops shot down one drone while another caused minor injuries at the Al-Tanf base in southern Syria. The base is home to some U.S. personnel and coalition forces.

In the Red Sea, the USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, shot down three missiles and several drones fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen. The drones and missiles, said Pentagon spokesperson Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, were assessed as a “threat” as they flew north from Yemen over the Red Sea “towards Israel,” Ryder said, though he refused to confirm that Israel was their target.

“The decision was made to take the shot and they took it,” Ryder said.

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Israel is about 1,600 miles from Yemen and the Carney engaged the missiles as they flew north up the Red Sea, Ryder said. Iran-backed Houthi forces in the country have fired missiles toward Saudi Arabia in the past. 

The U.S. will take “all necessary actions to defend U.S. and coalition forces against any threat,”  Ryder said.

The attacks were the second day in a row of aerial engagements in the region between drones and U.S. forces on the ground. On the previous day, U.S. forces downed three drones in two attacks in Iraq, one at Al Asad  another at Al-Harir Air Base in Northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. Minor injuries were reported in the attacks at Al Asad.

“It’s important to separate these attacks from the current situation,” he said, adding that the Department of Defense is going to continue to assess attribution for the incidents. 

In the wake of escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, which began on October 7, the U.S. deployed the USS Ford carrier strike group and the USS Eisenhower which is on the way to the Eastern Mediterranean. The U.S. is also enhancing fighter aircraft in the region.

Around 2,000 U.S. troops have been put on notice in case they are needed in the region, but specific units haven’t been selected yet.

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