Foreign Contractor Killed, 5 Others Injured After Rockets Hit Iraq Airbase

Foreign Contractor Killed, 5 Others Injured After Rockets Hit Iraq Airbase

Five other civilian contractors were also wounded, Army Col. Wayne Marotto, a military spokesman for the US -led coalition, said in a statement on Twitter, citing initial reports.

He said he had spoken to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi so that security forces based in Arbil and Baghdad could cooperate on the investigation.

At least two civilians were also wounded and the rockets damaged cars and other property, security officials said, without providing more details.

Earlier a statement from the Interior Ministry of the Kurdistan Regional Government said several rockets had been launched toward the city.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear, and American forces are often targeted by forces including ISIS, but American officials including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have blamed Iran-backed groups for previous strikes on USA forces in recent years. Kurdish authorities cautioned Irbil residents to stay away from targeted areas and remain in their homes.

Two other rockets hit residential neighbourhoods on Arbil's outskirts.

The airfield was hit by a barrage of six rockets on September 30, 2020, which officials have said were fired from a truck in nearby Nineveh province, which falls under the control of the federal government of Iraq.

Following the attack, security forces deployed around the airport and helicopters could be heard on the city's edges, an AFP correspondent said. Kurdish authorities had blamed Shiite militia groups. "There will be consequences against the culprits".

The U.S. also retaliated with strikes on militia sites in Iraq and Syria last March, after rockets fell on Camp Taji, killing two U.S. troops and a British medic and wounding over a dozen others.

Rocket attacks have frequently target the US presence in Baghdad, including the US Embassy, as well as convoys ferrying materials for the US-led coalition.

Attacks on bases housing USA forces, often involving 107mm Katyusha rockets, have become a frequent occurrence in the past almost two years, particularly in and around Baghdad, where they have also hit civilian areas near military and diplomatic facilities. The U.S. under the previous Trump administration blamed Iran-backed groups for carrying out the attacks. Tensions soared after a Washington-directed drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani and powerful Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis a year ago.

Mr. Trump had said the death of a US contractor would be a red line and provoke USA escalation in Iraq.

Groups that some Iraqi officials say have links with the Iranian regime have claimed a series of rocket and roadside attacks against coalition forces, contractors working for the coalition and US installations including the embassy in Baghdad in recent months.

Both groups are vehemently opposed to the US-led coalition, deployed in Iraq since 2014 to help local forces beat back the Islamic State group.

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