Sunday, December 10, 2023

Rocket attack hits US forces, killing Contractor in Iraq

A rocket attack hits US forces in northern area of Iraq on Monday killed a civilian contractor and injured a US service member.

Rocket fire hit near a military airfield of US-led coalition at Erbil International Airport of Iraq. Two US officials said the person killed was not an American. The coalition said five other contractors were injured without elaborating.

The attack, which is claimed by a little-known group that some Iraqi authorities said has ties to Iran. Also created tension in the Middle East as Washington and Tehran examined a possible return to the Iran nuclear deal.

In recent weeks, Iran-linked armed groups in Iraq and Yemen have launched attacks on the US and its Arab allies. Whereas drone attacks on Saudi airports and rockets at the US embassy in Baghdad.

Most of the incidents caused no casualties, but continued pressure on US forces and US allies in the region in the early days of Joe Biden’s presidency.

Read Also: Iran resume nuclear commitments when US lift sanctions

Biden’s government is considering a return to the Iran nuclear deal, which his predecessor Donald Trump abandoned in 2018 to limit Iran’s nuclear program.

US allies like France say any new talks must be difficult and include Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main regional enemy. Iran has insisted that it will only continue compliance with the 2015 agreement if Washington lifted crippling sanctions.

US Outrage after Rocket Attack

Tensions between the US and Iran frequently arise on Iraqi soil.

The US drone strike that killed Iranian nuclear leader Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in January 2020 brought the region to the brink of widespread confrontation.

A British official and two American officials killed in a missile attack on a base in northern Iraq last year.

Monday’s rocket attack hits US forces in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region, was the deadliest since then.

Kurdish security forces said three rockets had fired in the vicinity of the airport. Also at least two more had landed nearby. Media reporters heard several loud explosions and saw a fire breaking out near the airport.

US soldiers occupy a military base near a civilian airport. A third US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the US service man injury was a concussion.

A group called Saraya Awliya al-Dam was responsible for the attack on the US-led base. Because they were targeting “US occupation” in Iraq. He provided no evidence to support his claim.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said late Monday that the United States was “outraged” by the attacks.

In a statement, Blinken said he had contacted the Prime Minister of the Kurdish regional government, Masrour Barzani, “to discuss the incident and pledged to support all efforts to investigate and bring those responsible to justice”.

The groups, some of which Iraqi officials say have ties to Iran, have carried out a series of rockets and street bombs against coalition forces, coalition businessmen and US facilities, including the embassy in Baghdad, in recent months.

The Iraqi government under Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has sided with the United States against militias under Iran, but is trying to control powerful paramilitary groups.

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