Rocket strike hits Iraqi base housing US troops, no casualties reported

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Top line

A military base in western Iraq that houses US-led coalition forces was hit by at least 10 rockets on Wednesday morning just a week after President Joe Biden ordered strikes on militants supported by Iran along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Highlights

Rockets hit Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq’s Anbar province on Wednesday morning, according to the Associated Press reported.

The attack caused no significant losses and no casualties were reported.

An anonymous official of the Baghdad operations command Recount Reuters some 13 rockets were launched from a location about 8 km from the air base.

The targeted air base is the same one that was hit by missiles in January last year after a US airstrike kill Iranian General Qasim Soleimani.

Tangent

Pope Francis is due to visit Iraq from March 5 to 8. According to Reuters, the trip will take place despite the deteriorating security situation in the country and will include visits to Baghdad, southern Iraq and the northern city of Erbil.

Key context

Last week the Pentagon carried out airstrikes against Iranian-affiliated militias along the Iraqi-Syrian border in what was the first known military action ordered by President Joe Biden. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the strikes were a “proportionate” response to several rocket attacks on US facilities in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Erbil last month. The Trump administration had significantly reduced the presence of US troops in Iraq, and most forces consolidated mainly in Ain al-Asad and Baghdad. Militias backed by the Iranian paramilitary force Quds have been repeatedly accused of attacking US military targets in Iraq in recent years.

What to watch out for

Last week’s airstrikes on militias were aimed at deterring future attacks on US targets without seriously escalating tensions in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said last week. The new attack can now provoke more retaliatory strikes from US forces.

Further reading

US forces: rockets hit Iraq air base housing US troops (Associated press)

Rockets land on Iraqi air base hosting US forces (Reuters)

Biden launches airstrike against Iranian-backed militia in Syria (Forbes)

US airstrike in Syria against Iran-backed militia killed one fighter, injured two, Pentagon says (NBC News)


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