Foreign Contractor Killed, 5 Others Injured After Rockets Hit Iraq Airbase

  • Foreign Contractor Killed, 5 Others Injured After Rockets Hit Iraq Airbase

Foreign Contractor Killed, 5 Others Injured After Rockets Hit Iraq Airbase

A rocket attack at a USA -led military base in Kurdish northern Iraq on Monday killed a civilian contractor and wounded five other people including a US service member, according to initial reports, the USA coalition in Iraq said.

Another US official said the projectiles were 107 mm rockets, fired around eight kilometres (five miles) west of Arbil. He did not identify the nationality of the contractors.

Earlier a statement from the Interior Ministry of the Kurdistan Regional Government said several rockets had been launched toward the city. It was not immediately clear where the fire was located, but one area resident posted that it was on the edge of the airport.

Iraqi President Barham Saleh condemned the attack, saying in a statement posted online that it marked a "dangerous escalation".

The attack was the first time Western military or diplomatic installations have been targeted in Iraq in almost two months, after a string of such incidents.

The airfield was hit by a barrage of six rockets on September 30, 2020, which officials have said were fired from a truck in nearby Nineveh province, which falls under the control of the federal government of Iraq.

On Sept. 30, when six rockets hit near the airport.

There has been little comment from the Kurdish government in Iraq's north or authorities in Baghdad but in recent days, pro-Iran armed factions have made unusually tough public comments.

Around a dozen such groups have cropped up in the previous year claiming rocket attacks, but United States and Iraqi security officials have told AFP they believe them to be front groups for prominent pro-Iran factions including Kataeb Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq. "This aggression will not stand", he tweeted.

In October, the USA threatened to close its embassy in Baghdad unless the attacks stopped.

The frequency of attacks diminished late past year ahead of US President Joe Biden's inauguration. Tensions soared after a Washington-directed drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani and powerful Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis past year.

The U.S. -led coalition did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the situation at the military base on the airfield.

Groups that some Iraqi officials say have links with Iran have claimed a series of rocket and roadside attacks against coalition forces, contractors working for the coalition and USA installations including the embassy in Baghdad in recent months.

USA forces have been significantly reduced in Iraq to 2,500 personnel and no longer partake in combat missions with Iraqi forces in ongoing operations against the Islamic State group.