Rockets hit near US troops, contractors in Iraq

There were no casualties or claims of responsibility in the attacks near Baghdad Airport and Balad Airbase.

Multiple rockets hit two Iraqi military bases hosting US-led coalition troops and foreign contractors, but no one was hurt in the attacks.

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said in a statement on Thursday that three explosive-laden drones were intercepted and destroyed in an attack near a military base next to Baghdad’s airport.

Three rockets were also fired at Balad Airbase, north of the capital, on Wednesday, with no casualties or damage, a military statement said. The base has foreign military contractors.

Attacks on Iraqi targets, especially those hosting US troops and contractors, have increased since the US assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad in January 2020. Americans generally blame Iran-backed armed groups for targeting US forces and interests in Iraq.

More than a dozen rocket attacks have targeted bases and Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone since US President Joe Biden took office this year. At least 10 people have been killed, including two foreign contractors.

Balad Airbase is used by the US company Sallyport to service F-16 fighter jets flown by Iraq’s Air Force and has been repeatedly hit by rocket fire.

Another US company, Lockheed Martin, last month withdrew its employees from base amid concerns about the safety of its personnel.

At least three foreign subcontractors and one Iraqi subcontractor were injured in the attacks on Balad.

US forces have been operating in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion to oust dictator Saddam Hussein. US troops remained there as part of a military coalition set up to fight the ISIL (ISIS) armed group – a campaign that Iraq’s government won in late 2017.

The rocket attacks are seen as a means to pressure Washington to remove all of its remaining personnel, whom Iran-aligned factions view as an occupying force.

In mid-April, pro-Iran fighters sent a drone loaded with explosives to crash at Erbil airport, marking the first time such a weapon had been used against base housing US troops in Iraq.


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