US forces: rockets hit Iraq air base housing US troops
At least 10 rockets targeted a military base in western Iraq that houses US-led coalition troops on Wednesday, the coalition and the Iraqi military said. It was not immediately clear whether there had been any casualties.
The rockets hit the Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar province at 7.20 a.m., coalition spokesman Colonel Wayne Marotto said. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Iraqi military issued a statement saying the attack did not cause significant casualties and that security forces found the launch pad used for the rockets. He was found in the Al-Baghdadi area of Anbar, an Iraqi military official said on condition of anonymity to discuss the attack with the media.
It was the first attack since the United States struck Iran-aligned militia targets along the Iraqi-Syrian border last week, killing a militiaman and stoking fears of a possible repeat of ‘a series of piecemeal attacks that escalated over the past year, culminating in the US drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassim Soleimani outside Baghdad airport.
Wednesday’s attack targeted the same base where Iran struck with a barrage of missiles in January last year in retaliation for Soleimani’s murder. Dozens of American servicemen were injured and suffered concussions during the strike.
British Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hickey condemned the attack, saying it undermined the ongoing struggle against ISIS. “Coalition forces are in Iraq to fight Daesh at the invitation of the Iraqi government,” he tweeted, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. “These terrorist attacks undermine the fight against Daesh and destabilize Iraq.
Denmark, which like the United States and Britain also has troops at the base, said coalition forces in Ain al-Asad are helping bring stability and security to the country.
“The vile attacks on the Ain al-Asad base in #Irak are totally unacceptable,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted. Danish armed forces have said two Danes, who were in the camp at the time of the attack, are unharmed.
Wednesday’s attack comes two days ahead of Pope Francis’ planned visit to Iraq as part of a much-anticipated trip that will include Baghdad, southern Iraq and the city of Erbil to the north.
Last week’s U.S. strike along the border was in response to a series of rocket attacks targeting the U.S. presence, including one that killed a Philippine coalition contractor outside of the U.S. Erbil airport.
After the attack, the Pentagon said the strike was a “proportionate military response” taken after consulting with coalition partners.
Marotto said Iraqi security forces were investigating the Ain al-Asad attack.
US troops in Iraq significantly reduced their presence in the country last year under the Trump administration. Forces withdrew from several Iraqis based across the country to consolidate mainly in Ain al-Asad and Baghad.
Frequent rocket attacks targeting the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the United States Embassy, during President Donald Trump’s tenure frustrated the administration, resulting in threats to close the embassy and strike action. escalation.