Rocket attack, 3rd in 3 days, targets US in Iraq: army

Rocket attack, 3rd in 3 days, targets US in Iraq: army


Baghdad: The Iraqi army said that on Tuesday, two rockets were fired at a base that accommodates Americans. This was the third attack in three days when a US government delegation was visiting the country.

The two rockets fell on an unoccupied segment of the Ain-al-Assad airbase, “without causing damage or casualties,” the army said.

The latest rocket attack follows one against an airbase at Baghdad airport housing US-led coalition troops on Sunday night, and another against Balad airbase, which hosts US contractors, north of the capital on Monday night.

So far, there have been no reports of any attacks, but Washington routinely blames its troops and diplomats for attacks by Iraqi factions linked to Iran.

Pro-Iran Iraqi groups have vowed to ramp up attacks to force out the “occupying” US forces in recent months, sometimes against Tehran s wishes, according to some experts.

Iraq s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, perceived by pro-Iran factions as too close to Washington, on Tuesday discussed the presence of 2,500 US soldiers based in Iraq with US envoy Brett McGurk.

The men know each other well — Kadhemi, in his role as head of intelligence, a position he retains to this day, worked closely with McGurk when he was the US-led coalition s representative.

The military coalition was set up to fight the Islamic State jihadist group, which seized control of a third of Iraq in a lightning 2014 offensive.

Iraq declared its victory over the jihadists at the end of 2017. Since then, Shiite public opinion has continued to increase the pressure on the U.S. to withdraw its troops.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office stated that Khademi and McGurk are working on a timetable for “withdrawal from Iraq”.

Since President Joe Biden took office in January, about 30 rocket or bomb attacks have targeted U.S. interests in Iraq, including troops, embassies or Iraq’s supply convoys to foreign troops.

Two foreign contractors, an Iraqi contractor and eight Iraqi civilians were killed in the attack.

Officials say that last month, a drone full of explosives rushed to the Erbil airport in Iraq, which was reportedly targeted at a base used by the US-led coalition forces.

Dozens of other attacks were carried out in Iraq from autumn 2019 during the administration of Biden s predecessor Donald Trump.

The operations are sometimes claimed by obscure groups that experts say are smokescreens for Iran-backed organisations long present in Iraq.

The rocket attacks come at a sensitive time as Tehran is engaged in talks with world powers aimed at bringing the US back into a 2015 nuclear deal.

The agreement, which curbs Iran s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief, has been on life support since Trump withdrew in 2018.

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