Tuesday , April 20 2021

US says rockets hit Iraq base hosting coalition troops


Ten rockets targeted an airbase in western Iraq that hosts US-led coalition troops, the latest in a spate of attacks that have raised tensions days before a visit by Pope Francis.
There was no immediate claim for Wednesday’s attack on Al Asad Airbase, which came just a day after the Pentagon said it was hoping to deter future assaults by militias on facilities hosting American forces in Iraq.
A February 15 attack on a base in Erbil wounded a US service member and four US contractors and killed a Filipino contractor, prompting the US to carry out air strikes against Iranian-backed fighters in eastern Syria last week.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the US Defense Department’s top spokesman, said that the aim of that air strike “was to deter future attacks by militia groups on our people, our facilities and our Iraqi partners.”
The Al Asad base was also targeted last February in an attack which the United States blamed on Iran and in which around 100 service members suffered head injuries. Earlier this week an oil tanker off the coast of Iraq discovered a mine attached to its hull.
Wednesday’s attack is being investigated by Iraqi special forces, coalition spokesman US Col. Wayne Marotto said in a tweet. There were no casualties or material damage, a spokesman for Iraq’s joint operations command, Major General Tahseen al-Khafaji, said separately.
“Now we are working to find out the place where these rockets were launched from and how,” he said in a phone call.
The attack comes ahead of a visit by Pope Francis to Iraq beginning March 5. The visit will not include western Iraq but will include Baghdad.
Former US President Donald Trump blamed Iran for a rocket attack near the US embassy in the Iraqi capital in December.

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