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US deploys AC-130J gunship against militants in Middle East

An AC-130J Ghostrider assigned to the 4th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., flies over Wisconsin during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021, July 30, 2021. Photo: US Air Force/Master Sgt. Christopher Boitz.

The US Department of Defense has confirmed the deployment of an AC-130J Ghostrider ground-attack gunship to attack Iran-backed militants in the Middle East.

The US Department of Defense has confirmed the deployment of an AC-130J Ghostrider ground-attack gunship to attack Iran-backed militants in the Middle East.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said the gunship was already in the air when it was diverted to strike an Iran-backed militant group, who reportedly fired a close-range ballistic missile at United States and coalition forces on Al-Asad Airbase in Iraq.

The AC-130 self-defence strike destroyed an Iranian-backed militia vehicle and a number of Iranian-backed militia personnel, resulting in hostile fatalities.

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The ballistic missile attack resulted in non-serious injuries to US and coalition forces, as well as minor damage to infrastructure on the installation, according to Deputy Press Secretary Singh during a briefing at the Pentagon on 21 November.

“Immediately following the attack, a US military AC-130 aircraft in the area conducted a self-defence strike against an Iranian-backed militia vehicle and a number of Iranian-backed militia personnel involved in this attack,” she said.

“The militants were targeted because the AC-130 was able to determine the point of origin from where the close-range ballistic missile was being fired upon; or fired to the base. So they were able to take action because they saw the militants, they were able to keep an eye on the movement of these militants as they moved into their vehicles, and that’s why they were able to respond.

“We had an aircraft that was able to identify where the close-range ballistic missile was being shot from, and therefore, we were able to take action.

US forces have been attacked 66 times in both Iraq and Syria since 17 October, according to Singh, however this is the first time a ballistic missile similar to the one used in this attack has been employed.

“We are extremely mindful of this conflict broadening out into a regional conflict. That’s what we do not want to see. We do not want to be pulled into a regional conflict both from attacks on our troops, and also from what is happening in Israel,” she said.

“We feel very confident that the targets that we have selected, one, we know that Iran supports, backs, arms, equips, financially supports these groups (locations) and their affiliates.

“We are hitting them where it hurts. We are hitting weapons storage facilities and completely destroying them so they’re no longer of use. But we do want to see this conflict contained.

“We will always choose to respond at a time and place of our choosing. But again, we feel very confident in the responses that we have or the targets we have selected in Syria.”

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