Civilian contractor dies as rockets slam into US airbase in Iraq days after Joe Biden’s first airstrike ‘killed 22’ in attack on Iranian-backed militants

  • Multiple rockets hit Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province on Wednesday
  • Attack was launched from a site around five miles from the base, sources said 
  • It is the latest in a series of attacks on US forces in Iraq, and comes after Joe Biden launched his administration’s first strike on Iran-backed militants in Syria 
  • Attack also comes just two days before Pope Francis is due to visit the country 

A civilian contractor died during a rocket strike against a US airbase in Iraq just days after President Joe Biden’s first airstrike against Iranian-backed militants reportedly killed 22 people.

At least 10 rockets hit a US airbase in Iraq on Wednesday in the latest in a series of attacks on American forces in the country.

Iraqi and Western security sources said that the contractor died of a heart attack. No other casualties have been reported in the attack.

The rockets were fired at Ain al-Asad air base, in western Anbar province, around 7.20am local time from a launcher located five miles from the base, sources said.

The attack on the sprawling base is the fourth time in less than three weeks that rockets hit a Western installation in the country.

Ain al-Assad hosts both Iraqi forces and troops from the US-led coalition helping fight remnants of the Islamic State group – as well as the unmanned drones they use to surveil jihadist sleeper cells.

It is not yet clear who carried out the strikes but it comes days after US President Joe Biden approved his first airstrike – an attack on two Iranian-backed Shia militia groups in Syria that left 22 dead.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been escalating in recent years, particularly during former president Donald Trump’s four years in the White House, exacerbated by the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani last year, on Trump’s orders.

At least 10 rockets have hit a US airbase in Iraq in the latest in a series of attacks on American forces in the country. Pictures circulating on social media purportedly show the burnt out truck that was used to launch the attack

At least 10 rockets have hit a US airbase in Iraq in the latest in a series of attacks on American forces in the country. Pictures circulating on social media purportedly show the burnt out truck that was used to launch the attack

Coalition spokesman Colonel Wayne Marotto confirmed that 10 rockets hit the base at 7:20 am (0420 GMT), but did not provide details on any casualties.

Iraqi security forces said they had found the platform from which 10 ‘Grad-type rockets’ hit the Ain al-Assad base.

Western security sources told AFP the rockets in today’s attack were Iranian-made Arash models, which are 122mm artillery rockets and heavier than those seen in similar strikes.

The attack also comes ahead of Pope Francis’s visit to Iraq, which is due to begin on Friday and will mark the first time a pope has been to the country.

Despite the rocket attack, Pope Francis said on Wednesday that he would still make the trip ‘because the people cannot be let down’.

Western security sources told AFP that the rockets were Iranian-made Arash models, which are 122mm artillery rockets and heavier than those seen in other attacks on Western targets in Iraq. Pictures online purportedly show the vehicle that was used to launch the strikes

Western security sources told AFP that the rockets were Iranian-made Arash models, which are 122mm artillery rockets and heavier than those seen in other attacks on Western targets in Iraq. Pictures online purportedly show the vehicle that was used to launch the strikes

Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq - which hosts US, coalition and Iraqi forces - was hit by at least 10 rockets on Tuesday. One casualty has been reported so far

The rocket strike is the latest attack on US forces in Iraq by Iran-backed militias, though nobody has claimed responsibility. Ain al-Asad has also been attacked by ISIS in the past

The rocket strike is the latest attack on US forces in Iraq by Iran-backed militias, though nobody has claimed responsibility. Ain al-Asad has also been attacked by ISIS in the past

Dozens of rocket attacks and roadside bombs targeted Western security, military and diplomatic sites in Iraq in 2020, with Iraqi and Western military sources blaming hardline pro-Iran factions.

They came to a near-complete halt in October following a truce with the hardliners, but they have resumed at a quickening pace over the past three weeks.

In mid-February, rockets targeted US-led coalition troops in the Kurdish regional capital Arbil, a US military contracting company working north of the capital and the US embassy in Baghdad.

The US responded on February 26 with an air strike on Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary force stationed along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Twenty-two people were killed when seven 500lbs bombs were dropped on a compound used by two Iranian-backed Shia militia groups in the first Biden-authorized airstrike on the Shia militia compound in Syria.

Military sources said the airstrike was intended to ‘draw a line’ after a series of attacks on US positions in Iraq.

On February 15, a volley of rockets fell within the grounds of Erbil’s international airport and in residential parts of the city, killing a contractor while wounding several US personnel and Iraqi civilians.

The last major attack on Ain al-Asad came last year when Iran hit the base with 10 missiles in revenge for the killing of General Qasem Soleimani. 109 soldiers suffered brain injuries

The last major attack on Ain al-Asad came last year when Iran hit the base with 10 missiles in revenge for the killing of General Qasem Soleimani. 109 soldiers suffered brain injuries

The Green Zone in Baghdad, where the American embassy is located, has been a regular target for mortar and rocket fire.

The compound in Syria had been used by militants to smuggle weapons across the border and into Iraq, the US said.

Ain al-Asad air base is the second largest airbase established during US occupation of Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

It came under attack by Iran last year following a drone strike ordered by President Trump which killed General Qasem Soleimani.

Iran fired 15 Fateh-313 missiles at two US bases in Iraq during that attack: Ain al-Asad and another facility in Erbil.

Ten of the rockets hit the US airbase and one landed at the Erbil facility, while four failed in flight, American military sources said at the time.

No US troops were killed in that attack but 109 were later diagnosed with brain injuries from the force of the explosions.

It is not yet clear who was behind Tuesday’s rocket attack. The base has also come under attack from ISIS militants in the past.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Football Tragedy: Mattia Giani Dies on Pitch

Mattia Giani, a 26-year-old footballer, died on the pitch during an Eccellenza…

Nathan Cofnas: Cambridge College Drops ‘Race Researcher’ Over Backlash

The research into Cambridge University’s historical links to slavery sparked significant backlash,…

Lifeguard Who Gave First Aid to Bondi Stabbing Victims Details

Six people were killed, and eight others were injured, including a nine-month-old…

Nicola Sturgeon on Murrell’s embezzlement: ‘Incredibly difficult

Nicola Sturgeon describes the situation as “incredibly difficult” due to her husband’s…