Iran likely did not order drone attack on Iraqi prime minister, current, former U.S. officials say

Iran likely did not sanction a recent drone attack on the Iraqi prime minister though it was almost certainly carried out by Shiite militia forces that Tehran has armed and supported, current and former U.S. officials told NBC News.

The apparent failed assassination attempt illustrated how Tehran has struggled to corral quarrelling Shiite militia leaders in Iraq since the U.S. killed a key militia figure and a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in January 2020, said a senior U.S. defense official and two former senior U.S. officials.

“It’s fair to say that Iran does not have as much control over these groups since Soleimani was killed,” the defense official said.

At least two quadcopter drones armed with explosives targeted the residence of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Baghdad in the early morning hours of Nov. 7, but Kadhimi escaped without injury. The explosion blew doors off hinges and smashed concrete stairs on the outside of the building, according to images released by Iraqi authorities.

Iran condemned the attack and has denied any role in it.

The drones’ design and components resembled other quadcopter drones used by the Iranian-backed militias since July 2020, including a number of failed attacks on the U.S. embassy compound, current and former officials and regional experts said.

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