US Seeks Iraqi Permission to Deploy Missile Defenses

Officials cite January 8 Iran missile strike as justification

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that the US is pressing the Iraqi government for permission to deploy Patriot missile defense systems inside Iraqi territory, which he says is needed to protect US forces from Iran.

The Pentagon has some Patriot systems in the Middle East, but none in Iraq, and they are citing a substantial number of brain injuries at Ayn al-Asad during the January 8 missile attack as proof that they need defenses.

Getting such permission would likely have been easy a month or two ago, but after the US assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Iraq’s parliament is very clear they want the US out of Iraq, and adding more defense systems would give the appearance of going in the opposite direction.

Iraq may also believe they can use this as leverage to at least reduce the US presence further, either suggesting that they leave if they don’t feel safe, or conditioning the approval on further limits to general US operations.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of