Rockets struck outdoors an airport near the place US forces are based mostly in northern Iraq late Monday, killing one US-led coalition contractor and wounding at the very least eight different folks, Iraqi safety and coalition officers mentioned, sparking fears of latest hostilities.
At least three rockets hit areas between the civilian Irbil worldwide airport in the semi-autonomous Kurdish-run area and the close by base internet hosting US troops at 9.30 pm. No one instantly claimed accountability.
One civilian contractor with the coalition was killed and 5 others wounded, coalition spokesman US Army Col. Wayne Marotto mentioned. One US service member was wounded, he mentioned. He didn’t reveal the nationality of the useless contractor and mentioned this was below investigation.
At least two civilians had been additionally wounded and the rockets broken automobiles and different property, safety officers mentioned, with out offering extra particulars. A press release from Kurdistan’s Interior Ministry mentioned “several people” had been injured based mostly on a preliminary investigation. The rockets had been launched from an space south of Irbil near the border with Kirkuk province and fell on some residential areas near the airport.
The officers spoke on situation of anonymity in line with rules.
Iraqi President Barham Saleh condemned the assault, saying in an announcement posted on-line that it marked a “dangerous escalation”. Kurdish authorities cautioned Irbil residents to keep away from focused areas and stay in 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 averted the airport’s defenses, particularly naming an automated machine gun often called a C-RAM that protects American installations in Iraq.
“The American occupation will not be safe from our strikes in any inch of the homeland, even in Kurdistan, where we promise we will carry out other qualitative operations,” the declare mentioned, in line with the SITE Intelligence Group.
Attacks 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 near the airport, Kurdish authorities mentioned they’d been launched from a pickup truck in 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 Party, mentioned safety officers had been investigating the supply of the assault. “There will be consequences against the culprits. This aggression will not stand,” he tweeted.
Rocket assaults have continuously goal the US presence in Baghdad, together with the US Embassy, in addition to convoys ferrying supplies for the US-led coalition.
The frequency of assaults diminished late final yr forward of US President Joe Biden’s inauguration, although now Iran is urgent America to return to Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal. The US below the earlier Trump administration blamed Iran-backed teams for finishing up the assaults. Tensions soared after a Washington-directed drone strike that killed high Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and highly effective Iraqi militia chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis final yr.
Trump had mentioned the loss of life of a US contractor can be a pink line and provoke US escalation in Iraq. The December 2019 killing of a US civilian contractor in a rocket assault in Kirkuk sparked a tit-for-tat combat on Iraqi soil that introduced the nation to the brink of a proxy warfare.
US forces have been considerably decreased in Iraq to 2,500 personnel and now not partake in fight missions with Iraqi forces in ongoing operations towards the Islamic State group.