US Air Force targeted in ‘propaganda attack’ in Kuwait


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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The US Air Force said on Saturday it was the subject of an unprecedented “propaganda attack” by an Iraqi militant group which falsely claimed to have launched a drone attack targeting US troops on a air base in Kuwait.

The statement from the Air Force’s 386th Air Expeditionary Wing came hours after the group calling itself Al-Waretheen, or “The Inheritors,” released a statement online claiming that on August 12, it targeted the Ali Al Salem air base in Kuwait. The statement included video showing a drone being launched from a stand, but offered no evidence of an attack or damage to the base.

The statement claimed the alleged attack was in revenge for the US drone strike that killed prominent Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in January 2020.

The air base is located a few tens of kilometers (miles) from the Iraqi border.

“Disinformation falsely stated that an Iranian militia group used (drones) to carry out an attack on the base,” the Air Force statement told The Associated Press. “No such attack took place.”

The statement suggests that the United States believes Al-Waretheen is likely an Iranian group, although it describes itself as Iraqi.

The Air Force added that the online claim “is only intended to deceive their public into believing a lie” and that the Air Force and Kuwait “continue to project air power throughout the region without interruption”.

Kuwait, a small oil-rich country bordering Iraq and Saudi Arabia also near Iran, is considered a non-NATO ally of the United States. Kuwait and the United States have enjoyed a close military partnership since the United States launched the Gulf War in 1991 to expel Iraqi troops after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded the country.

Some 13,500 US troops are stationed in Kuwait, which is also home to US Army Central’s forward headquarters. These forces supported the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent operations against the Islamic State group.

Kuwait did not immediately acknowledge the claimed attack. Its Ministry of Information did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday evening.

Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas, citing “responsible” unnamed sources, called the claims of an attack “completely false”.

Planet Labs PBC satellite photos analyzed by the AP since Aug. 12 show no apparent damage to the base.

A string of militant groups that analysts say have ties to Iran have claimed responsibility for attacks they say targeted US troops in Iraq in recent years. However, these roadside bombings targeted Iraqi contractors supplying US forces in the country.

The claim also comes as what has been described as the Latest round of talks continues between Iran and US over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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