The U.S. officials confirmed deployment of Patriot missile launchers and two other short-range systems at al-Asad Air Base in Iraq, where Iran carried out a massive ballistic missile attack against U.S. and coalition troops in January, and at the military base in Irbil, said officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive weapons movement. A short-range rocket defense system was installed at Camp Taji.
The military has been gradually moving the defensive systems into Iraq over the last few months to provide more protection for troops that have seen a series of rocket and missile attacks.
In early January, the U.S. launched an airstrike in Baghdad that killed Iran’s most powerful military officer, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a leader of the Iran-backed militias in Iraq. Kataib Hezbollah, one of those militias, has been responsible for a number of attacks on U.S., Iraqi and coalition forces.
The Soleimani killing triggered the Iran ballistic missile attack, which resulted in traumatic brain injuries to more than 100 American troops.
The Patriot batteries, which are designed to protect against missiles are at al-Asad and Iribil. In addition, the so-called Army C-RAM system is being used and is able to take out rockets and mortars. And the more sophisticated Avenger air defense system can counter low-flying missiles and aircraft, including drones and helicopters.
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