Five rockets target Iraqi base housing US contractors

Rockets targeted Iraq’s Balad airbase, with two of the projectiles falling near an area used by US contractors.

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Five rockets targeted Iraq’s Balad airbase, with two of the projectiles falling near an area used by US contractors without causing casualties, a security official told AFP.

“There were no victims or damage,” the official said.

Balad airbase, located in the north of Baghdad, is used by US company Sallyport to service F-16 fighter jets flown by Iraq’s airforce and has repeatedly been targeted by rocket fire.

Another US company, Lockheed Martin, withdrew its staff from the base last month amid concerns about the safety of its personnel.

At least three foreign subcontractors and one Iraqi subcontractor have been wounded in attacks on Balad. Rockets also hit near a military base at Baghdad International Airport, the Iraqi army and security officials said.

Following the attack on the airbase, security officials told Reuters that at least one rocket hit shortly afterward, near the airport at a base that US military aircraft use.

The officials told AFP the attack was carried out with a “booby-trapped drone”, a technique increasingly used by pro-Iran groups.

The US routinely blames such attacks, which also regularly target US interests at other installations, including Baghdad airport, on Iran-backed factions.

US troops are in Iraq as part of a military coalition formed to combat the Daesh/ISIS terror group, which Iraq’s government declared it was victorious against in late-2017. The rocket assaults are considered as a tactic of pressuring the United States to withdraw all of its remaining personnel, which Iran-linked militias regard as an invading force.

In mid-April, pro-Iran fighters sent an explosives-packed drone crashing into Irbil airport in the first reported use of such a weapon against a base housing US troops in Iraq.

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