The Pentagon said: Two days before Pope Francis visited Iraq, the Pentagon said that a US contractor died of heart failure Wednesday after a rocket attacked an Iraqi base stationed with a joint force.
After several weeks of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran on Iraqi soil, about 10 rockets violently rushed into the Ain al-Assad military base spreading in the western desert of Iraq.
No US service members were injured, but the civilian contractor suffered a cardiac episode while sheltering and died shortly after, the US Defense Department said.
Pope Francis said he would go ahead with the first-ever papal visit to the war-scarred country so as not to “disappoint” the Iraqi people.
“The day after tomorrow, God willing, I will go to Iraq for a three-day pilgrimage,” the 84-year-old pontiff said in his Wednesday address. “For a long time I have wanted to meet these people who have suffered so much.”
The rocket attack is the fourth attack on a U.S. combat site in recent weeks.
It came five days after the US retaliated, bombing a border depot in Syria which the Pentagon said was used by Iran-backed Iraqi armed militia that have been tied to the rocket attacks.
Ain al-Assad hosts Iraqi forces and US-led coalition troops helping fight the Islamic State group.
The coalition s spokesman said the rocket barrage came at 7:20 am (0420 GMT). Iraqi security forces said they had found the platform from which the rockets were fired.
Western security sources told AFP that they are Iranian-made Arash 122mm artillery rockets, which are heavier than those seen in similar attacks.