Ten rockets had been fired at an Iraqi army base internet hosting U.S.-led coalition troops Wednesday, the most recent in a collection of rocket assaults in Iraq with this one simply days earlier than the Pope is because of go to the nation.
The rockets focused Ain Al-Asad airbase, northwest of Baghdad, at 7:20 a.m. native time Wednesday (11:20 p.m. Tuesday ET). The assault was confirmed in a tweet from Col. Wayne Marotto, the army spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the 83-member coalition to defeat ISIS.
Iraqi safety forces are main the response and investigation, he added.
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Main Basic Tahseen al-Khafaji of the Iraqi safety forces informed NBC Information that the assault occurred at 7:30 a.m. native time (11:30 p.m. ET) and that there have been no casualties or damages reported on the base. Safety forces had been investigating who was behind the assault, he added.
Wednesday’s rocket assault follows a U.S. airstrike final week in jap Syria that killed one fighter in an Iranian-backed militia and wounded two others, according to the Pentagon.
That operation was the primary recognized use of army pressure by the Biden administration and was carried out in retaliation for a deadly rocket attack on a U.S.-led coalition base in Irbil in Kurdish northern Iraq last month, in addition to two different assaults.
The rocket assault in Irbil on Feb. 15 was essentially the most lethal assault to hit U.S.-led forces within the nation for almost a year, and carried echoes of one other assault in December 2019 that triggered a harmful escalation between Iran and the USA.
The most recent assault might stoke fears of a repeat of final yr’s tit-for-tat escalation, that culminated within the U.S. assassination of high Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq final January.
Iran retaliated lower than per week later by firing missiles at American troops in Iraq, injuring dozens of U.S. service members who suffered traumatic brain injury. Ain al-Asad airbase was certainly one of two bases focused by Iran.
NBC Information had beforehand reported that Iranian-backed militias had been almost certainly behind the Irbil rocket assault in February, and that the weapons and techniques resembled earlier assaults by the Iranian-linked militias. Nevertheless, it was unclear if Iran had inspired or ordered the rocket assault.
The uptick in assaults comes at a delicate moment between Iran and the United States, as President Joe Biden seeks to have interaction in diplomatic talks with Tehran that would see Washington re-enter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal in 2018, re-imposing sanctions on the nation.
However Iran on Sunday rejected a proposal from the European Union for direct talks with the USA. Iranian officers say Washington first wants to supply aid from punishing U.S. sanctions.
Following the assault on the Irbil base final month, Iraq’s Balad air base got here beneath rocket fireplace days later, the place a U.S. protection agency companies the nation’s fighter jets, after which two rockets landed close to the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad.
The Pentagon said last week that the U.S. airstrike in jap Syria despatched an “unambiguous message” that Biden would act to guard American and coalition personnel. The U.S. had acted in a deliberate method that goals to “de-escalate the general scenario” in each jap Syria and Iraq, the Pentagon added.
Talking at a briefing Tuesday, simply hours earlier than the most recent assault, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby stated there hadn’t been any assaults by militia teams on “our folks” for the reason that airstrike final week.
“One of many issues that we had been definitely hoping to attain because of that strike was to discourage future such assaults by militia teams on our folks, our services and our energetic companions,” he stated.
The most recent rocket assault comes two days earlier than Pope Francis is because of journey to Iraq in what could be the first-ever papal go to to the Center Japanese nation.
Francis had supposed to go to Iraq in 2014, as did St. John Paul II in 2000, however each needed to name off their journeys attributable to safety considerations, in keeping with The Related Press.
Throughout his journey, from Friday to Monday, Pope Francis is because of go to Baghdad, the holy Shiite metropolis of Najaf and the northern metropolis of Irbil, amongst different locations.
He’s scheduled to fulfill with Ali al-Sistani, the non secular chief of tens of millions of Shiite Muslims, in what’s believed to be the first-ever assembly between a pope and an Iraqi grand ayatollah.
Talking Wednesday on the finish of his common viewers, Francis requested for prayers that his go to to Iraq might go forward “in one of the simplest ways attainable.”
“The Iraqi folks await us, they waited for Saint Pope John Paul II, his go to was not allowed to happen,” he stated, in keeping with a Reuters translation. “The folks can’t be let down for a second time.”
He made no point out of the deteriorating safety scenario within the nation, in keeping with the information wire.
Dan De Luce contributed.