United Nations slams deadly Iraq rocket attack as 'reckless'
United Nations slams deadly Iraq rocket attack as 'reckless'
It's the first time in 2 months that US installations have been targeted in Iraq
16 February, 2021, 20:59
Rockets also damaged several houses and businesses in civilian areas near the airport, according to the interior ministry of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.
There are reports of civilians being injured in the attack.
A rocket attack on a U.S. base in northern Iraq killed a contractor and wounded eight people including a USA serviceman on Monday night, the State Department and Kurdistan Regional Government said, increasing pressure on Joe Biden, the USA president, as he mulls a return to the Iran nuclear deal.
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Several rockets landed in other areas of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region.
The U.S. has attributed the attacks to Shiite militias, which are backed by Iran and have pushed for the withdrawal of American troops, some 2,500 of which assist Iraqi security forces battling ISIS.
At least three rockets targeted the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil, with one hitting a military complex at the Arbil airport where USA -led coalition troops are based.
They appeared to be targeted at a military complex in Arbil airport that hosts foreign troops deployed as part of a US-led coalition helping Iraq fight jihadists since 2014.
The frequency of attacks diminished late previous year ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's inauguration, though now Iran is pressing America to return to Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal.
US 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.
Trump had said the death of a USA contractor would be a red line and provoke United States escalation in Iraq.
The group Saraya Awliya al-Dam, whose name means "Guardians of Blood Brigades", claimed responsibility in a statement shared online.
Masrour Barzani, president of the Kurdish region of Iraq, said in a Tweet that he had spoken with Secretary of State Antony Blinken about cooperating to find those responsible for the attack. It was not immediately clear where the fire was located, but one area resident posted that it was on the edge of the airport.
"We are outraged by today's rocket attack in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region", Blinken said in a statement.
But Blinken's call for an investigation marks a shift away from that policy under President Joe Biden's new administration.
Before leaving office in January, Trump had threatened that any further fatal attacks would prompt a mass bombing campaign, with Iraqi sources telling AFP that more than 100 sites would be targeted.
Ashab Ahl al-Kahf has claimed previous rocket attacks on USA bases but is thought by Iraqi and Western officials to be a "smokescreen" for other groups. The embassy in Baghdad continues to operate with the ambassador and a small number of key staff.
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