Iranian Drones Downed Over Iraq Were en Route to Strike Israeli Targets, Officials Believe

The Iranian drones were shot down by American fighter jets while heading westward. Last month, an alleged Israeli attack caused heavy damage to the Iranian drone system

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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An Iranian launch of unmanned aircraft in 2014.
An Iranian launch of unmanned aircraft in 2014.Credit: AFP
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Two drones launched from Iran last month and intercepted by American fighter jets over Iraq intended to hit targets in Israel, defense officials believe.

Prior to the attack, which occurred on February 14, Israeli security officials were on high alert over fears of an Iranian response to a series of Israeli attacks on Iranian targets.

The Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen newspaper reported last week that Israeli drones launched from Iraqi Kurdistan hit a base in Iran earlier in February, causing heavy damage to the Iranian drone system. Hundreds of drones of various sizes were destroyed in the bombing.

The building in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, attacked by Iranian missiles last week. Credit: AZAD LASHKARI/רויטרס

Last week, Iran fired 12 missiles at a building near the city of Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, which it claimed was being used by Israeli intelligence. Al Mayadeen reported it was a retaliation for the attack on the Iranian base.

About two weeks ago, the Israel Defense Forces announced that last March, Israeli fighter jets shot down two drones en route to Israel, adding that all Iranian drones would be intercepted before reaching Israel "in coordination with neighboring countries."

According to the announcement, Israel had been tracking both aircraft throughout the duration of their flight until two F-35 fighter jets shot them down.

The Iranian aircraft reportedly were carrying firearms and ammunition, which Israel believes was part of an attempt to establish an air-based smuggling infrastructure from Iran to the Gaza Strip, and to evaluate whether such a method could be used for smuggling larger weaponry in the future.

Wreckage of a drone shot down over Iraq by U.S. forces in January.Credit: HO /AP

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