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1 Killed, 8 Wounded in Rocket Assault on U.S. Base in Iraq

(BAGHDAD) — Rockets struck exterior an airport close to the place U.S. forces are based mostly in northern Iraq late Monday, killing one U.S.-led coalition contractor and wounding a minimum of eight different folks, Iraqi safety and coalition officers stated, sparking fears of recent hostilities.

Not less than three rockets hit areas between the civilian Irbil worldwide airport within the semi-autonomous Kurdish-run area and the close by base internet hosting U.S. troops at 9:30 p.m. Nobody instantly claimed accountability.

One civilian contractor with the coalition was killed and 5 others wounded, coalition spokesman U.S. Military Col. Wayne Marotto stated. One U.S. service member was wounded, he stated. He didn’t reveal the nationality of the lifeless contractor and stated this was below investigation.

Not less than two civilians had been additionally wounded and the rockets broken vehicles and different property, safety officers stated, with out offering extra particulars. A press release from Kurdistan’s Inside Ministry stated “a number of folks” had been injured based mostly on a preliminary investigation. The rockets had been launched from an space south of Irbil close to the border with Kirkuk province and fell on some residential areas near the airport.

The officers spoke on situation of anonymity in keeping with rules.

Iraqi President Barham Saleh condemned the assault, saying in a press release posted on-line that it marked a “harmful escalation.”

Kurdish authorities cautioned Irbil residents to avoid focused areas and stay of their houses.

In a later assertion, a little-known Shiite militant group calling itself the Guardians of Blood Brigade claimed accountability for the assault. It claimed firing 24 rockets that prevented the airport’s defenses, particularly naming an automated machine gun often called a C-RAM that protects American installations in Iraq.

“The American occupation won’t be protected from our strikes in any inch of the homeland, even in Kurdistan, the place we promise we’ll perform different qualitative operations,” the declare stated, in response to the SITE Intelligence Group.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated the U.S. was pledging its assist for investigating the assault and holding accountable those that had been accountable.

“We categorical our condolences to the family members of the civilian contractor killed on this assault, and to the harmless Iraqi folks and their households who’re struggling these ruthless acts of violence,” he stated in a press release.

Assaults concentrating on Irbil airport are uncommon, with Monday’s rockets the primary to strike the realm in 5 months.

On Sept. 30, when six rockets hit close to the airport, Kurdish authorities stated that they had been launched from a pickup truck within the close by city of Bartella in Ninevah province, which falls below federal authorities management. Kurdish authorities had blamed Shiite militia teams.

Hoshiyar Zebari, a politburo member of the Kurdistan Democratic Social gathering, stated safety officers had been investigating the supply of the assault. “There shall be penalties in opposition to the culprits. This aggression won’t stand,” he tweeted.

Rocket assaults have steadily goal the U.S. presence in Baghdad, together with the U.S. Embassy, in addition to convoys ferrying supplies for the U.S.-led coalition.

The frequency of assaults diminished late final 12 months forward of U.S. President Joe Biden’s inauguration, although now Iran is urgent America to return to Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal. The U.S. below the earlier Trump administration blamed Iran-backed teams for finishing up the assaults. Tensions soared after a Washington-directed drone strike that killed prime Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and highly effective Iraqi militia chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis final 12 months.

Trump had stated the dying of a U.S. contractor could be a pink line and provoke U.S. escalation in Iraq. The December 2019 killing of a U.S. civilian contractor in a rocket assault in Kirkuk sparked a tit-for-tat battle on Iraqi soil that introduced the nation to the brink of a proxy warfare.

U.S. forces have been considerably decreased in Iraq to 2,500 personnel and now not partake in fight missions with Iraqi forces in ongoing operations in opposition to the Islamic State group.


Related Press writers Samya Kullab and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

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