Mystery drone attack on pro-Iran Iraqi militia was a gamechanger in the US-Iran standoff

The edgy US-Iranian conflict took a new turn on Friday, July 19, with the anonymous drone attack on the pro-Iran Hashd Shaabi’s 52nd Brigade camp outside Amerli, a town in the Iraqi province of Salahudin northeast of Baghdad. Up until then, the targets of this measured, no-casualty conflict were Gulf oil objects and drones.  The attack on the Iraqi Shiite militia was in a different class. This time, multiple casualties were reported, including Hashd Shaabi officers and fighters as well as Iranian and Lebanese Hizballah officers and technicians.

Local Sunni tribesmen attested to the camp serving as a transit station for ballistic missiles smuggled from Iran and apparently destined for the Iraqi Shiite militias fighting in Syria and for Hizballah. Other locals described the targeted site as an assembly plant for missile component smuggled from Iran in refrigeration trucks for transporting perishable food.

The attack itself on a military facility lying 110km northeast of Baghdad bears professional military fingerprints provided with good quality intelligence. This is indicated by the operation being conducted in two stages. In the first, an unidentified drone wrecked the buildings. Half an hour later, another unmarked drone made sure the buildings were razed to the ground while also liquidating the first responders coming to the site of the attack.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that some local witnesses had video clips taken two days earlier, which showed an aircraft identified as a US B350 reconnaissance plane making several passes over the area. This top-secret aircraft has served US special forces in counter-terror operations around the world. Its presence with special American forces in Iraq was discovered when one of them crashed in 2016.

On Friday, US officials firmly denied any American role in the attack on the Hashd Shaabi’s 52st Brigade. It occurred at the same time as the USS Boxer amphibious assault vessel shot down an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Still, US intelligence support to the assault cannot be ruled out; or even the transfer of intelligence to the party responsible after the plan of attack was presented to Washington.

This scenario would turn the finger of suspicion towards Saudi Arabia, which has a score to settle for the explosive drone which flew in from Iraq in mid-May and damaged a key pumping station on its East-West oil pipeline. Both Riyadh and Washington are unlikely to countenance Iran opening a new front from Iraq in the north on top of the assaults coming from Yemen in the south.
Another theory attributes the attack to Israel, which has put Tehran on notice that the deployment to Iraq of ballistic missiles for aiming at targets on its soil would not be tolerated.
The military connotations of the drone strike on the Iraqi Shiite militia are more far-reaching that the Revolutionary Guards’ seizure of  the British Stena Impero tanker in the Persian Gulf. In the latter case, it is highly doubtful that the US or the UK, which is sunk deep in political crisis, will launch a military operation for its release, whereas the former revealed that an armed conflict proper, to which none of the parties admits responsibility, was being waged on the brink of their “quiet war.”  

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45 thoughts on “Mystery drone attack on pro-Iran Iraqi militia was a gamechanger in the US-Iran standoff

  • Jul 20, 2019 @ 22:16 at 22:16
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    Hmmnn, The Whom Wound Blame Game? Was it Arabia, Abbas, Iraqis, Israel, Houthis, British, Hizballah, America, Hamas, Syrians, Kurds, Turks, Russia, or “IRGC.’s Death To Regime Chant”? And Regime Can’t Respond, Another Allah Alleluia!

    • Jul 21, 2019 @ 17:22 at 17:22
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      Because this was an anti-demonic annihilation, I would add to the list the angels.

    • Jul 21, 2019 @ 18:51 at 18:51
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      If in doubt, the Jews did it…

      • Jul 22, 2019 @ 2:05 at 2:05
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        Dirt,

        Happy Nakba!

    • Jul 21, 2019 @ 19:52 at 19:52
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      abd israil avrupa ülkeleri ortadoğunun esas sorunudur esas tehlikesidir israil iranın nükleer tesislerinin tamamını abd ile ortak vurmalıdır bu konuyu netanyhuya söyleyin

      • Jul 24, 2019 @ 3:33 at 3:33
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        Turkey has Erdogan the Muslimite dictator. That’s good for Turkey and good for the world. Iran and Turkey should continue to be good friends. They deserve each other.

  • Jul 20, 2019 @ 22:28 at 22:28
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    WFC

    • Jul 20, 2019 @ 23:15 at 23:15
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      Why, How, Who is just Mideast Guessing Parlor Game, What Drone Killed? Who Benefited? Who Has Power To Cover It Up? https://youtu.be/veMFCFyOwFI

    • Jul 21, 2019 @ 6:50 at 6:50
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      they don’t need pay for iraq shia militia, you jews are out of your mind. Hashd shabi is now part of iraq army and iraq as a oil producer pay their salaries and budget. Easy peasy

  • Jul 20, 2019 @ 23:58 at 23:58
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    The ayatollahs have changed their seldom washed, smelly skirts to new, bright brown outfits – just in case
    (to save face and and feces…)

    • Jul 21, 2019 @ 0:23 at 0:23
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      The Message is Clear, Deputy Shiia Ledership Militia Fighters of Hamas, Iran, Hisballah, Iraq, and Houthis can be Targeted Anytime, Anywhere & Nobody Knows Who Did It. Crystal Warning to Higher Ups as well, Planning Chaos Comes Back & Can on Iran on Future with Drones of No Name!

    • Jul 21, 2019 @ 4:12 at 4:12
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      Towards a dead end road with a great big sheer rock cliff at its very end . Great raging white waters below .

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 0:32 at 0:32
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    It matters little since it was obviously somebody on our side doing damage to their side. Bravo.

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 1:04 at 1:04
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    Abbas… Good Training Video, was this the British Ship Released later? Alleluia!

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 1:17 at 1:17
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    The last paragraph was incoherent

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 2:32 at 2:32
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    I give a big thumbs up on the second strike, . . . got the first responders trying to play the salvage and save game. Now when there is a “hit”, . . . it just may burn itself out with no one coming to check on it.

    Makes the first hit much more effective.

    • Jul 21, 2019 @ 3:23 at 3:23
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      Who ever did it, I salute the accuracy and professionalism of this attack. No one knows who was responsible which is good! That’s what happens when one country (Iran) is fighting every where against the world.

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 4:28 at 4:28
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    Did ‘we’ win or lose? I cant keep score if I don’t know who players are!

    WHO R WE???????????????????????

    • Jul 21, 2019 @ 4:45 at 4:45
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      It won’t be a Surprise if Shiia Regime Hard-Liners & Moderates Remove Khamenei Quietly Sleep into Night knowing Changes are needed! When more Global Forces Build with Bankers & Diplomats leave Tehran that will be Beyond the Point of No Return, for All! When Stalin Died, Korean War Ended!

    • Jul 22, 2019 @ 20:07 at 20:07
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      @Ira Speaks: Depends on who you’re cheering for, doesn’t it? If you’re cheering for the Mad Mulllahs of Iran, then you LOST.

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 5:53 at 5:53
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    The Iranians probably bombed their own camp. Was it Bomber before Prayers or after?

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 6:20 at 6:20
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    It was the turkish intelligence backed by MiT who did this

    • Jul 21, 2019 @ 8:11 at 8:11
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      “Turkish” and “intelligence” is an oxymoron, just as Erdogan is a moron.

      • Jul 21, 2019 @ 8:31 at 8:31
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        well whether we like it or not , it was them

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 8:57 at 8:57
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    I flew through the desert a deadly drone with no name
    It felt good to be out of the rain
    In the desert you can’t remember your name
    ‘Cause we’re here for to give you some serious pain

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 10:32 at 10:32
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    …and somewhere along the line some sort of unidentified drone will probably blow up a US camp, and it goes on…until missiles fly allover the middle east and innocents get killed in shopping malls and kindergartens as per usual, and we’ll then say “never again” ..again!

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 11:48 at 11:48
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    I am waiting for the drone that has Nasrallah name on it, followed by the two saved for Khameneie and Suleimani

    • Jul 21, 2019 @ 15:45 at 15:45
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      Norbus… Leadership among Proxies will be the Targets and Iran won’t care until it happens to their IRGC and Themselves.

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 15:43 at 15:43
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    Looks like a Longer Siege of Sanctions against Property, Tankers and Oil Game of Embargo, Escalation with Secret Talks. Until, Lives are Lost that can be Traced to Sources. No One wants War but Accident Can Happen from Bad Behavior Not Under Control!

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 17:36 at 17:36
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    Yup, I also suspect Turkey. They’re going wild.

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 17:41 at 17:41
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    As an American loser once quipped before a House committee; “at this point what difference does it make”
    The deed is done and no one knows who did it; right! The reality is; who cares who did it as long as it was done…

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 19:52 at 19:52
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    abd israil avrupa ülkeleri ortadoğunun esas sorunudur esas tehlikesidir israil iranın nükleer tesislerinin tamamını abd ile ortak vurmalıdır bu konuyu netanyhuya söyleyin

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 21:26 at 21:26
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    By blaming Saudi Arabia Debka and Israeli are hoping to start a war between Iraq and Saudi Arabia making Israel stronger. It is more likely Israel has done it. Saudi Arabia is stuck in Yemen and can not handle another war.

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 21:34 at 21:34
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    The ayatollahs are furiously shi^*ing in their skirts…

  • Jul 21, 2019 @ 21:52 at 21:52
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    you made me laugh sooo hard

  • Jul 22, 2019 @ 1:55 at 1:55
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    Iran Captures 3 & Damaged 1 Tanker Whose Value Less than Billions Losing on Sanctions, Oil Investments, and Global Trade Goodwill! Dumb Schemes Always Loses To Smarter Dreams! The BCE Days of Persia & Judaism Cultural-Economic Bliss Are Badly Missed!

  • Jul 22, 2019 @ 4:04 at 4:04
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    Does killing first responders count as terrorism? Does this mean that Israel is guilty of carrying out terrorist attacks?

  • Jul 22, 2019 @ 4:16 at 4:16
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    James… Making “Death To Israel”, & “Funding Attacks”, on Israelis, Palestinians, and Others Living in Judea, Jerusalem, Israel with Missiles in Present and Nukes in the Future Call for Presumptive Self-Defense?

    • Jul 22, 2019 @ 19:00 at 19:00
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      I think you mean pre-emptive self defence … but again, it is one thing to target political or military leaders, it is a whole other thing to target first responders. The US did not bomb German hospitals during WWII, in fact it would have been a war crime if they did, and those hospitals were staffed by and administered by actual nazis.

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