One dead, six wounded in rocket attack near US base in Iraqi Kurdistan

Civilian contractor killed in blasts close to Erbil International Airport

Peter Stubley
Monday 15 February 2021 23:59
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<p>Smoke rises over Erbil after rockets landed near the international airport in Iraqi Kurdistan</p>

Smoke rises over Erbil after rockets landed near the international airport in Iraqi Kurdistan

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A rocket attack near a US military base in Iraqi Kurdistan has left one person dead and six wounded, according to coalition forces.

At least three missiles landed in the area close to Erbil International Airport in the regional capital at around 9.30pm local time.

One civilian contractor working with the coalition was killed and five were injured. A US service member was also hurt.

Kurdish security officials said at least two civilians were also wounded and damage was caused to cars and other property in residential areas.

Video footage broadcast on local television showed damaged vehicles and shattered glass covering an area where one mortar shell fell.

Erbil airport, one of the busiest in Iraq, was shut down and flights were halted for safety.

Wayne Marotto, the official spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, tweeted that coalition forces had been hit by “indirect fire”.

He added: “There was 1 civilian contractor killed, 5 civilian contractors injured and 1 US service member injured.”

Broken glass at the Bright Castle Motors building following the rocket attack near Erbil airport

Iraqi President Barham Saleh said that the targeting of Erbil marked a “dangerous escalation and a criminal terrorist act”.

He added: “We have no choice but to firmly strengthen our efforts to root out the forces of terror and the attempts to plunge the country into chaos.”

A group calling itself Saraya Awliya al-Dam claimed responsibility for the attack on the US base, saying it targeted the “American occupation” in Iraq. It provided no evidence for its claim.

Rocket attacks have frequently target the US presence in Baghdad, including the US Embassy, but attacks on Erbil airport and the military base next door are rare. Only around 2,500 US personnel remain in Iraq.

Last September, when six Katyusha rockets fell near the airport, Iraqi Kurdistan’s counterterrorism service blamed it on Iran-backed Iraqi Shi’ite militia groups.

Additional reporting by Associated Press and Reuters

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